In defence of Swiss Smokers

Post by Tina

Maybe this is repeating things we have said before and maybe it is a bit of a rant, but I don’t care! I am one of those terrible Swiss women who smoke cigarettes and recently I have got a bit fed up with non Swiss people attacking me and my country because we smoke.

I recently joined a forum for English speakers in Switzerland so I could practice my English a bit more, and almost immediately got into an argument with some foreigners about smoking. Anyone who knows me or my family through any of our blogs will know we are very international, and we generally like travel and respect foreigners. My second mum Cassie is English and I do a lot of work for refugees in Switzerland. And we are all well traveled and have friends in many parts of the world. But it kind of angers me that some foreigners living here in Switzerland seem to want us to stop being Swiss and adopt their cultural and personal beliefs about smoking.

We are Swiss; and it is true that we smoke quite a lot here. Smoking is part of our lifestyle and culture. Official government statistics suggest that about a third of adults over sixteen here smoke (which is apparently higher than in a lot of places). To be honest I think those statistics may be manipulated a bit by the government to make us look better in the eyes of the world. In truth I think maybe more than half of us smoke; and amoung the people I know it is more like two thirds.

And we are ok with that. But some of the foreigners living here take a different view… Here are some quotes I found on the forum. They are from people who come from Australia, England and The U.S.A. (I have taken all the names and any other identifying details out).

As an Australian the high smoking rate in Europe is one of the first things I noticed when we moved to Switzerland.In Australia, it has been illegal to smoke inside public buildings for more than 20 years. In the last few years the laws have been tightened significantly, you now cannot smoke within 100m of a public building or doorway. All hospital and school grounds are smoke free. You can’t smoke in restaurants, and in Canberra even if the restaurant has an outdoor area smoking it is forbidden. As a non-smoker, I have really struggled in Switzerland – even just waiting at the bus stop can be a problem with groups of people smoking while they wait. 

Well, you know… This is Switzerland not Australia; and it pretty much sounds like I would hate Australia. And if I hated not being able to smoke so badly I could always go back to Switzerland, but I wouldn’t expect the whole of Australia to change their lifestyles to suit me!


Personally, I think if someone wants to smoke and risk developing cancer, coronary artery disease, hypertension and all of the other health problems associated with it, then that’s their problem. But I strongly object to being exposed to it myself simply because I am walking behind them on the footpath, waiting next to them at a bus stop or sitting at a restaurant table.

Fact, not everyone who smokes gets any of those diseases you are so paranoid about. And of course some people who don’t smoke do get them. (Not because of passive smoking either). Sadly there actually aren’t many restaurants where you can smoke inside anymore, even here. People who are afraid of just smelling cigarettes from people smoking in the street really need to get a life and stop worrying so much!

But I must agree there is more of a smell of cigarettes in the street than you might find in some other places. It mixes with the smell of fresh bread, cheese and clean, flower scented air. For me it smells like home. Every place has it’s unique smells and customs, that is what travel reminds you. If people only ever want things to be the same as they are at home, maybe they should stay there.

I’m sorry if this sounds a bit rough, but when it comes to smoking, I really encourage smoker discrimination! Meaning, I’m not standing next to them, I’m not walking behind them, I’m not sitting outdoors drinking a coffee next to a smoker as long as they are puffing smoke all over the place. 

Good grief! Well don’t worry, there is no chance I would want to sit near you anyway!

Cigarettes are killers traveling in packs.

Oh funny! But seriously, with all the problems in the world, this is what you worry about?

Those Swiss women think they look so cool and sexy when they smoke but I think they look disgusting. Who would want to kiss an ashtray anyway?

That comment sounds so much like it comes from somebody who has never been kissed! They tried to have an anti smoking campaign here once which tried to make out that smoking wasn’t cool or sexy. All I can say is, the campaign was a huge failure! I have been told I look sexy when I smoke, and I find men and women who smoke quite attractive. As for kissing, nobody said I was disgusting up till now!

I just find it interesting that even considering the high cost of health insurance and doctors in this country, people still go and buy those darn things. And they are such good sellers too! 

Well an interesting point is that while our health insurance might be expensive, we have one of the healthiest and longest living populations in the world despite being a country of smokers!

Again, I am not against foreigners; my boyfriend is one! But I smoke and I like smoking and I’m Swiss and I like being Swiss. There are a lot of great things about America and Australia and Britain and other parts of the world, but I don’t want my country to be a copy of those places. We have our own culture and lifestyle and for many of us smoking is a part of that. For example we have a lot of specialist tobacco shops where you can buy good quality cigars. Smoking cigars is really a feature of life in some parts of the country. Both my Mum and Dad smoke cigars sometimes; especially after Sunday lunch. It is a kind of tradition. (I have tried but it is not my taste at the moment). But I do like cigarettes a lot.

Of course not everyone in Switzerland smokes but even the non smokers I know mostly think it is part of our lifestyle and we should have the right to choose and not be dictated to by other countries. We are quite independently minded here!


Please just let us be us.


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