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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

São Paulo: Smoke-free Zone


If you want to smoke in the state of São Paulo, now you’ll have to do it in the street or in the open air. Forget about smoking anywhere else, except your home, of course. Hotel and bar owners didn’t like the idea very much and protested vehemently, but I doubt very much they’ll make any headway in their attempt to get the governor to veto the bill.


Smokers are not complaining because I believe most of them want to quit but don’t have enough will power to do it, so anything that will keep them from lighting up is welcome. Therefore, fumódromos (fooMAWdromoz), designated smoking areas, will be a thing of the past. Elevators will certainly be more crowded the whole day since fumantes (fooMUNGteez), smokers, will have to take them to get to the street in order to puff on their cigs. Smokers will have to walk more in malls, which is good for them, as they’ll have to go out in order to smoke.
And if you think boates (Bo-AH-teez), nightclubs are exempt from this law, think again. There is more, only owners and proprietors will pay the piper. If a smoker is caught dragging on a cigarette in a banned place, the owner has to make sure they are kicked out since there’ll be no fines or punishment for them as they are regarded as addicts, therefore, sick. The owner can call the police to make sure they are expelled, but can’t make use of any violence to get them out. And they'll have to get them out somehow since owners will have to pay a huge fine if anybody complains, and I mean huge, depending on the situation, up to R$ 3 million.

If you take a taxi in São Paulo (Soung POUloo), don’t light up. Remember, streets and open air, that's it. Of course, with the “jeitinho brasileiro” (zheyTING-you brazeeLEYddoo), the sneaky Brazilian way, taxi drivers and bar owners, among many, will find a way to sidestep this law, but this is better than no law. Sneakiness and underhandedness are practiced all over the world, not just Brazil, so I kind of resent the implication of the expression jeitinho brasileiro. It makes people think only in Brazil do people act underhandedly. You just have to read newspapers around the world to find out that sneakiness can be good or bad, it depends on the law you are fighting against. A sneaky person in Nazi Germany was the good guy and the same can be said about people living in totalitarian regimes all over the world.

So, long live sneakiness, who doesn’t make use of it every now and then? It is not the act that makes it bad, but what you are getting around. But I like the legislation, it’ll force lots of people to be sneaky or to quit smoking, and since smoking is hazardous to your health, more power to the law!

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