walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Smoking: a bit about our trip to Efteling, and remarks about PBS

I was chatting with my next door neighbor, J. (who I love dearly) about our recent trip. Her husband is from Norway, and they go back to visit his family with some frequency and have taken the kiddies to places like Legoland while there, so we got to talking about the difference between going to theme parks in the US vs. in Europe. And the first thing that came up was the smoking.

This is pretty interesting, because there are a variety of differences between theme parks here and theme parks there (and neither place is uniform -- there's a lot of within-country variation). But you can still smoke while standing in line for a kiddie ride at Efteling or Legoland, and you sure as hell cannot do that here. Long, long, long before we started passing laws here about whether you can smoke near entrances to public places and in parks and so forth, amusement parks were restricting smoking in the same way that chain restaurants and hotels that catered to families were the first to voluntarily adopt and then later to really enforce smoking areas and then later chain-wide no-smoking.

According to the very nice man who rented part of his house to us in Diever, the Netherlands passed a lot of smoking restrictions in 2008, which included a blanket ban on smoking in rental housing (which is perhaps a third or more of all housing in the Netherlands), in cars while children are present (something still legal in the US -- we'd do well to adopt this one). But you can still smoke outdoors. If you walk around eating food in the Netherlands, even in Efteling, you will look weird, stand out and get a lot of off looks (we didn't do this because I know better, and even letting A. have a popcorn in line felt like I was pushing the edges of what was allowed, while I had a tea -- even tho there was a concession stand _in the line_). But if you smoke while surrounded by toddlers and their parents and grandparents, crammed into the queue for the monorail ride in Marerijk, no one will say a word (altho to be fair, there will be some side eye going on).

Being surrounded by smoke for the 20 minute wait is kind of annoying. It may or may not be taking minutes or hours or months off my life -- I didn't get exposed to enough for my clothes to pick up the smell, so it's nothing like what I grew up with. But it's awful and annoying and that shit does not happen at Disney, or StoryLand or Santa's Village.

I mention this, even tho I don't really feel up to a full trip report yet, because I stumbled across this article:


If PBS thinks it is going to widen its base so that Republicans will quit picking on them, all I can say is that they are risking completely losing me as a supporter. The "real" reason behind public smoking is because most of us don't smoke, and most of us really don't like being around smoking (RHI ex-smokers feel the strongest of all about this; I wouldn't know). Having been forced to endure it in decades past when we were young and powerless -- even people who "asked" if it was okay to smoke when I was young would then be offended if I asked them not to, because it would set off my respiratory problems -- we're really not shy at all about saying Not Around Us. I'm not trying to save any smokers lives; that's their business, not mine.

But don't stink up the air around me and my kids. That's not being a nanny state or finger waggy. That's being Decent and Middle Class and Bougie and wtf, thank you very much, I worked hard to get here and I like being this way.

Bayer has allowed the verbal debate to shape too much of his thinking. He needs to take several gigantic steps back and think a little to understand why kiddies in his classes want to loosen up regulation on highly regulated substances and increase regulation on tobacco. I don't know what precisely he might learn if he did, but I suspect it will reflect a fairly nuanced reaction to our Actual Legal Context, in which it's still way too easy to start a very dangerous habit (tobacco use) and way too life-destructive to get caught as an occasional smoker of Mary Jane or a chipper at something else. If he understood this better and responded to it, the world would make more sense, and he could provide a more useful counterbalance to the policy debate, if he wanted to persist in being some kind of asshole gadfly.

ETA: It is entirely possible that Legoland Denmark no longer allows smoking, since my friend last went there. The website suggests that it is limiting smoking to areas, a la typical in the US. Disneyland Paris created smoking areas and banned smoking from the rest of the park in 2008 (altho enforcement is considered still spotty by some posters in forums).

ETAYA: I think there may have been some confusion on the smoking in cars with kids things; I heard this from R. and someone up the chain got it wrong; this has not been passed in the Netherlands yet. But Arkansas and Maine have passed versions!

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