I’ve been a smoker, and I’ve been a non-smoker. Heck, over the years I’ve been a non-smoking smoker (“I’m just gonna have one because I’ve been drinking!”) and a smoking non-smoker (“I’m quitting until after we run this 5k!”). I’ve made and broken resolutions, chewed gum and affixed patches. I’ve been annoyed by people who comment about secondhand smoke (usually when I’m in a smoking phase), and I’ve been ticked off by those blowing some my way (always in my non-smoking phase). So I’ve been on pretty much every side of the smoking debate… and it’s from that perspective that I want to try and bring cruisers on both sides together. It’s a long shot, but it’s worth a try. Right?
What Non-Smokers Need to Understand
Hard as it might be to believe, there was a time when smoking was, if not the actual norm, certainly the accepted one. You could smoke on ships and planes and trains, in restaurants and workplaces. And it’s not like there was ever a time when we, as a society, didn’t know that smoking was bad. I mean, come on… we’re lighting something on fire and breathing the smoke into our lungs. If a building was on fire, nobody would run up to it and start taking big gulps, then declare it pleasurable.
But as science basically proved what common sense had already told us about not only puffing on cigarettes, but second-hand smoke, the places in which those who choose to partake have shrunk. This means that cruise-wise, they went from being able to smoke on balconies and in the main dining room to having ever-decreasing spaces set aside for them. So yes, the casino — where smoking is almost always allowed — is very likely going to get smoky, despite air-filtrations systems and the like. But there are far more places on the ship (and, for that matter, on land) where smoking is banned than allowed.
What Smokers Need to Understand
By the same token, smokers need to realize that they do themselves no favor by breaking the rules. During a recent cruise, the people on the balcony next to mine would often “sneak” out for late-night smokes. It doesn’t help that they often then pitch those butts into the ocean, despite this being bad for the environment and putting the ship (not to mention everyone onboard) at risk.
These behaviors are not only ill-mannered, but short-sighted. We live in a society where more and more people are becoming health-conscious. It isn’t terribly difficult to imagine a time when the government — which has long tried to play both sides by making money off of the very tobacco products that they demand be labeled as dangerous – will consider making smoking illegal.
Even easier to imagine is cruise ships, already limiting the areas in which smoking is allowed, to take the next step and simply ban onboard smoking altogether. Breaking the rules where smoking is concerned is only likely to hasten that possibility. Earlier this year, a passenger smoking on a balcony started a fire which, thankfully, resulted in limited damage. Had that incident gone from near to actual tragedy, you can bet there would be a move toward the banning of smoking altogether.
The Bottom Line
It’s probably safe to assume that smokers and non-smokers aren’t going to join hands and sing a chorus of Kumbaya anytime soon. But if both sides could learn to see things through the eyes of the other, it might help make things a little bit easier. And heck, maybe it can even start in the comment section on this post. Usually, smoking-related pieces can result in heated words being exchanged by both sides. But maybe, just maybe, we can actually realize the value of discussion and debate, even when on opposite sides, over dissing and trash-talk.
How might the cruise industry better approach the growing rift between smokers and non-smokers without totally alienating one group or the other?