Finland is attempting to become a smoke-free country. A new law will ban the display of tobacco products in shops by spring and ban smoking in cars if you have a minor in your vehicle.
The Finnish government has made it plain that these are only the first steps to get rid of tobacco “once and for all,” according to State Secretary Ilkka Oksala.
Oksala says “we are not afraid” of the tobacco industry, and considering that there really isn’t a tobacco industry in Finland (it’s not exactly the best place to grow it) they might be able to win this fight.
But will they really be able to phase out tobacco entirely? I bet other highly addictive substances that are already illegal in Finland, such as heroin and cocaine, can still be found.
Europe has been shifting towards an anti-smoking culture for some time now, driven by the need to reduce costs to national health care systems. The UK already has a smoking ban in public buildings such as restaurants and pubs, and Spain will follow suit this year. Even Amsterdam’s coffee shops have separate spaces if you want to mix tobacco with your hash. Finland’s total ban is only the most extreme example of a continental trend.%Gallery-13474%
The world’s fastest train may be able to top 200 miles per hour, but it can be stopped with a barrier not even three inches long. A rider who opted to disregard the rules lit up a cigarette on the train as it ran from Guangzhou to Wuhan in China, causing a delay of two and a half hours. To put the inconvenience in perspective, that’s about how long it takes the train to complete its journey of more than 700 miles (1,100 kilometers).
The irritated passengers were unable to see justice served, as the smoker eluded capture – he fled the scene when the alarm that stopped the train went off. Reuters notes a Xinhua news agency report in which a spokesman for the Guangzhou Railway Group Corporate says, “Smoking is strictly forbidden on the Wuhan–Guangzhou high-speed train, even in the toilet.” He continued, “It could trigger the alarm and even cause equipment failures.”
It could also lead to a delay, he didn’t need to explain, that could cost the passengers all the efficiency they purchased.
First you couldn’t smoke on planes. Then trains banned smoking. Now, you can’t smoke in rental cars, at least, not if you rent from Avis or Budget. As of October 1, all cars in both rental companies’ fleets will be non-smoking.
Avis and Budget say the policy came about in response to the needs of renters, citing a non-smoking car as the most-popular rental request. Cars that have been smoked in also require additional cleaning and are out of service longer, costing the companies more money. A spokesman for the Avis Budget Group says they expect some smokers to be upset with the new rules and to take their business elsewhere, but that they think overall the new plan will attract more customers than it will lose.
Avis and Budget will be the first major rental car companies to ban smoking entirely (others offer “non-smoking” cars but many don’t guarantee them), though they are only instituting the ban among their North American fleet, not worldwide. Each car will undergo an inspection upon return and renters who have smoked in the vehicle will be charged a cleaning fee of up to $250.
On Tuesday, the Argentina Supreme Court ruled that punishing an adult for personal use of marijuana, so long as that use doesn’t harm anyone else, is unconstitutional. It’s a major step towards decriminalizing the possession and use of pot in the country, and comes on the heels of Mexico’s passage of a similar law that made it legal for adults to carry small amounts of pot, cocaine, heroin, LSD, and methamphetamine. Earlier this year, a Brazilian appeals court also ruled that possession of small amounts of pot was not illegal in that country.
It’s a new approach to the war on drugs – one that focuses more on reducing harm to drug users and society than on prosecuting recreational users – and one that seems to be forming a trend in Latin and South America. Only time will tell if that trend extends to the United States, but many members of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy hope so. Back in May, Mexico’s former President Vicente Fox was quoted by CNN as saying, “I believe it’s time to open the debate over legalizing drugs. It must be done in conjunction with the United States, but it is time to open the debate.”
I stick to the booze, but I won’t begrudge someone the right of recreational use of a naturally-growing plant. And while I won’t jump on the bandwagon for legalizing all drugs, I would support the passage of a law that allows adults to possess small amounts of pot. I just don’t believe it’ll happen in the United States any time soon. Until then, tokers can use this guide to get their smoke on in several other countries around the world where pot is legal or more publicly tolerated.
How did this one get by me? An all-smoking airline!
Alexander Schoppmann is on the prowl for startup capital for an all-smoking airline. Once he gets the cash, he’s going to lease two Boeing 747s and run a route from Dusseldorf to Tokyo. This doesn’t do much for the few Americans who still prefer to light up, but if the Schoppmann can squeeze a profit out of this (which conventional airlines aren’t even doing), maybe he’ll export the idea.
If all goes according to plan, Smintair (for “Smoker’s International Airways) will go wheels up for the first time next year. Each plane will accommodate 138 passengers, with no economy seating. You’ll have to pay to play on Smintair, but if you have a serious tobacco jones, it could be worth the trouble – especially if you’re stuck on a plane from Germany to Japan.
Schoppmann is looking to use the upper deck as a passengers’ lounge, rather than cramming it with more seats. Smintair will be an upscale affair, so the poor and the nic-free should book their travel arrangements elsewhere. Flight attendants and pilots who aren’t interested in a smoke-filled workplace, the company says, need not apply.
The price tag is hefty: approximately $56 million. Part of this will pay for an older approach to pushing fresh air through the cabin – instead of the cheaper systems being used now. Even with the barriers, Schoppmann is optimistic. I guess the former stockbroker has some solid connections.
Cigar smokers: if you’re worried about discrimination, the hopeful founder remembers fondly the days when Lufthansa would serve a selection of Montecristos in flight.