Got a light?

A ritual gone in a puff of smoke, claims The Washington Post (link via Arts & Letters Daily).

Here in Singapore, they've been trying to stamp out smoking with all the fervour of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the US stamping an 'O' for Offensive on Brokeback Mountain. Have they succeeded? (The Singapore government, that is.)

Old school coffee break

The Chinese characters say "Please pay attention" above the no-smoking symbol --- but the small print delineating exactly where the law prohibits smoking is doubly obscured by the, duh, small print and the masking tape used to put up this sign. A for novelty, F for communication.

Well, so much for that.

I've had assorted friends (and one husband) swear off smoking one or more times over the past few months, only to blatantly indulge in a little nicotine treat within a month of their most recent declaration. To be fair to them, I think it's hard to quit smoking when many of their (our) friends smoke, and it's particularly hard to try and quit during the festive (party) season, with its social engagements galore.

beeker's latest theory was that if one person within the group tried to quit, but then yielded halfway to temptation and proceeded to bum smokes off the others while resisting the urge to buy a pack of his/her own ---

--- That would piss off enough of the smokers that they might, one by one, also choose to "quit" and bum smokes off the others, rather than to continue to buy cigarettes and pay for another's habit in addition to their own ---

--- Which would perpetuate a vicious (virtuous) cycle among the group of friends until one poor sod, aka the last smoker standing, threw in the towel and refused to support his pals' (moochers') habits and quit too. Voilà! Everybody's quit.

I think there's a little game theory workings its mojo in that hypothesis, but I'm not sure that the overall scenario holds together.

Anyway, so The Washington Post seems to have found that in D.C., guys "just don't" light other guys' cigarettes and while people won't talk to you in a bar, they will once you're all outside on the sidewalk smoking. Now I've seen (heterosexual) men light other (hetererosexual) men's cigarettes in Singapore, so that doesn't seem to be verboten, but the truism about smokers' impromptu social groups applies well enough. There've been plenty of times when I park myself in the smoking zone at a party because that's where all the cool kids interesting conversations are. I'm lucky, I suppose, in that I have a pretty high tolerance for being smothered by cigarette smoke. Dating a chain smoker back in college pretty much inured me to any inhalation issues.

Voluntary non-smoking zones haven't quite taken off in a big way in Singapore, but there are two I can plug for people who enjoy a coffee or beer without nicotine on the side:
  • Shamus O'Donnell's at 162 East Coast Road --- Yes, it's possible for an Irish bar to be smoke-free and still be Irish. Ask them for a shot of potcheen's and a pickled onion, why don'tcha?
  • Cafe Cosmo at 47 Amoy Street --- Cool place, cool music, yet surprisingly non-smoking. By the way, they take cash only.
Smoke, or don't smoke. Just don't ask me for cigarette money.


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At 1/23/2006 4:41 pm , Blogger ejl said...

the irish pub is smoke free because smoking is banned in ALL indoor areas in ireland.

staying true to their nationalistic loyalties, i guess.

At 1/23/2006 7:32 pm , Blogger Tym said...

But in Singapore, as you know, most pubs (Irish or not) are smoker-friendly! At least until legislation catches up to them ...

At 1/23/2006 8:09 pm , Blogger ming said...

how about the smokers don't pretend to quit, that way no smoker will have to be a victim of being bumped cigarettes off. its just a bad habit. no cigarette= do not go a smile smile to another smoker. its not like cigarettes are cheap here. perhaps i should keep my balcony, smoker unfriendly too.

At 1/23/2006 11:40 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The vicious cycle theory does not work. The Smokers as a group are always more powerful than the quiter as an individual.
Every once in a while the quitter
doesn't end up part of the group again.

/not a chain smoker anymore
//wait...this isn't fark.

At 1/23/2006 11:44 pm , Blogger wahj said...

The "virtuous cycle you describe is flawed. Assuming people do get pissed off, and stop buying cigarettes in favour of bumming them off others, it doesn't change the fact that they are still, in act and attitude, smokers. When the new equilibirum state is reached where none are buying and all attempting (and failing) to bum, then all will revert to buying. Meanwhile, the smoking's still going on ...

At 1/24/2006 1:00 am , Blogger Robin CHAN said...

Nice blog!

Yes, the logo is kinda small.. but the word are so big.

Hmm.. reverse psychology?

At 1/25/2006 2:45 am , Blogger  said...

i don't think i have ever used the excuse of "quitting" to bum cigarettes off people.

but i would like to know how to successfully quit smoking. i guess NAB will say "just do it!"

At 1/25/2006 8:13 pm , Blogger Abigael said...

Yay!! I'm a cool kid!
Not anymore :(


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