August 12, 2014

I just saw a guy smoking in our court yard and figured his roommate or wife must have told him to smoke outside. I then wondered what really happened economically after the smoking ban over ten years ago. I came across this article which I thought was interesting.

When the threat of the ban was looming, many smokers were outraged, but they were able to feel outraged only because smoking indoors was perfectly normal then. When something is accepted as the norm, most people do not question it because they are more interested in getting along with others than being fair for its own sake. This is how all sorts of cultural conflicts arise too. Whatever is the norm in your own culture, you would assume to be right, better, and/or fair, but the inherent unfairness, contradictions, or flaws become quite obvious when evaluating the norms of other cultures.

Before the smoking ban went into effect, my argument was this: Suppose you like the smell of burning rubber, and you decide to burn a piece of rubber in a bar. Do you think you can get away with that? The only reason you could burn a cigarette in a bar and get away with it is because it just happens to be the norm in our society. Objectively speaking, it’s as rude and obnoxious as burning a piece of rubber because the smoke directly affects others in the bar, in the same way loudly talking on the phone in a restaurant would.

Now that 10 years have passed since the ban, the norm has decidedly shifted. People finally see the rudeness of smoking for what it is.