Smoking In England

Let me just start by saying that I’m not judging anyone, I just thought it would be interesting for smokers and non-smokers alike to know about this.

Being from Portugal, a lot of my friends are smokers. Actually, most of them are smokers. I don’t know what it is, but there are a lot of smokers in Portugal, it’s just a very normal habit to have. And, besides the normal health worries, smoking is not really something that people think of necessarily as a bad thing. What I mean is that, even though people know they shouldn’t smoke, others don’t judge them too much for doing it.

In Portugal you can still smoke inside bars, clubs, restaurants and other public closed spaces that have smoking-areas, so people are very much used to drinking their espressos with a cigarette, no matter where they are. So of course it was a shock for a friend of mine when she was finally able to visit me here in London. I’m going to call her Cintia.

Cintia is a heavy smoker who says she’ll eventually quit, though I think it’ll be extremely hard for her, as it is for most smokers really. When she arrived in the UK she was desperate for a cigarette, as there were no smoking areas in Heathrow airport so when we met her in Green Park we had to go outside so she could smoke.

After that we continued our journey to another friend’s house for a surprise appearance. To get there we had to take the overground and, if you live in London, you probably know how sometimes you have to wait quite a bit for the next train, which was the case. And again, if you have ever taken the overground, you’ll know that most of the overground stations are, as the name states, above ground and open. So it was a big surprise for my friend when we told her she couldn’t smoke there.

– What? But I’m outside!

Later on she was angry (in a friendly way, of course) I hadn’t warned her about the smoking ban because she could have prepared herself mentally for it.

In England there are no smoking areas in closed public spaces, not even in pubs or clubs. If you want to smoke, you’ll have to go outside. And sometimes not even there! You can’t smoke near entrances of buildings or even at bus stops (if they’re 50% covered).

England is a mean country for smokers, not only because of the smoking ban but also because of the cost of cigarettes (of course, I’m comparing to Portugal, where a pack of 20 costs around €3,50). Who wants to smoke their £10 pack outside in the cold rainy English weather? If you want to quit smoking, England might be a good place to go.

E-cigarettes are now quite popular as well. So popular in fact, that people have started talking about banning those as well! Actually, even though they’re not banned in any way, it is generally accepted you can’t use them on public transport. And managers or establishment owners have the right to ask you not to use them in their premises. So, be aware that smoking in England is not extremely easy.

IT Crowd has a good episode (Season 2, episode 3, Smoking On The Job) mocking the smoking ban, you should check it out! If you’d like, you can watch the smoking scenes on YouTube here.

Hope this was useful and until next time,

Inês

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