Smoking on campus: a Brit’s perspective
Published: Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 11:11
This is an article of opinion by Adele Macgregor, a writer for the Student Printz. Email any questions or comments to email@example.com.
Since arriving in the states I've noticed several cultural differences with regard to smoking. First and foremost, American cigarette packs do not have the angry black and white warning signs that plague cigarette packs in Europe. American smokers seem to be fully aware of the dangers of smoking and do not need telling that "Smokers die younger,"
"Smokers die a slow and painful death" or, one of my favorites, "Smoking is highly addictive. Don't start." In Britain, for the most part, when these aren't being ignored, they're being collected. A lovely example on the effectiveness of these little warning signs is seen in the popular British comedy "Green Wing" where two characters, Rachel and Boyce, are outside smoking and reading their cigarette packs;
Rachel: "What does yours say?"
Boyce: "Smoking lowers sperm count."
Rachel: "May cause miscarriage."
They put out their cigarettes, swap packs and light a new one.
No doubt our cigarette packs will soon be printed with horrific pictures of smoker's lungs in an effort to put people off smoking and encourage smokers to quit. In theory, I can see that this would be effective. I've seen pictures of the lungs of a smoker and it's vile. Yet perfectly healthy lungs don't exactly make a beautiful picture either. Never mind what the smoking does to a person, I would just rather not see body parts printed on cigarettespacks in a store. If nothing else, it would certainly put me off being a clerk where cigarettes are sold.
This brings me to my next point: cigarettes sold in pharmacies. If I asked for a pack of cigarettes in a pharmacy at home I'd be laughed at. It does not make any sense whatsoever. In fact, it makes about as much sense as selling beer in a gas station.
Other small differences include the lack of ten packs of cigarettes in America and the lack of the lovely slang term Brits use for their cigarettes, "fags," which I am fully aware has a whole other meaning this side of the pond.
Finally, smoking in Britain is almost totally unacceptable among young people. It's not uncommon for it to be the key reason not to date someone and very often you'll find that groups of friends are split into smokers and non-smokers. A lot of this is a direct effect of the smoking ban. Smokers are banished outside while their non smoking friends can stay inside by the bar (assuming that's where they are, which in Swansea – my hometown – is a safe bet). Smokers are regularly taunted for their filthy habit by smug individuals with healthy lungs, especially if it's raining. Of course in Britain it will probably be cold, too, and so smokers are subjected to being taunted by dry, warm, healthy smug individuals while they shiver outside in the cold, struggling to light their cigarette in the wind.