19 April 2007

Down With Smoking

One aspect of my recent trip to China that was negative, beside the initial monotony, was second-hand smoke. I've been living in health-conscious New York City for so long that it is a given that eating out automatically means it should be a smoke-free experience. Not so in China, or any other places that still think it's perfectly fine to light up anywhere smokers feel like. I think Asians such as Chinese and Vietnamese simply love smoking. Maybe it's only because I know more Asians than people of other races, but most Asian men I know are smokers, especially outside of the U.S. It didn't help at all that our host, Uncle P, was a heavy smoker. I cannot recall if he smoked much back in 1994, perhaps because it was a shorter stay and we didn't have dinner with many people. He sure did during my second visit. He lit up before the meal, during the meal, after the meal, in the bus, off the bus, around children or with no children around, so on and so on. He may be excused because he lives in China, where such behavior is perfectly acceptable, sad but true. What was extra disappointing was that in our big group was an uncle on my wife's side. He lives in NYC all these times and must know the rule. Whether he followed them in NYC or not I didn't know, but he sure enjoyed his smoke very much during this visit, lighting them up almost everywhere. Whatever restraint he might have regarding smoking while in NYC simply went out the window. Of course 9 out of 10 men who went to the various dinners that I attended were smokers, but again, they were Chinese in China, where smoking is still allowed in public places. Nothing ruins a good meal like a whiff of second-smoke in the face. I tried my best to avoid the smoke but I am sure my lung blackened much during the visit. About the only place that prohibited smoking was McDonald's. I'd rather die from heart disease or whatever Mickey D's food bring, at least it's my choice, whereas with second-hand smoke it's someone else's bad decision and rude behavior that do the harm.

Luckily, Hong Kong's new smoking ban just took effect Jan 1st of this year, so my HK visit was extra pleasant. When the smokers in the group had to fill their needs, they had to step outside just like back in NYC.

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