Tuesday, January 29, 2008 9:43 PM
January 29, 2008
This, believe it or not, is an internet café in Berlin. Well, actually it's a normal café / bar theoretically specialising in Arabic food which has found a niche in a very crowded market as an internet café, offering both PC terminals and free wifi as well as its normal menu.
As I currently work mainly from home, it's useful to get out once or twice a day - stops me going crazy - and since the start of the year, when a comprehensive smoking ban came into effect, my radius of action has vastly increased. Now, don't get me wrong: I wouldn't want to stop anyone from enjoying a cigarrette, but I would greatly appreciate it if they'd do it somewhere where I am not, as I would like to enjoy my time with a nice coffee, beer and / or meal without their contribution in the form of an unavoidable layer of stink coating my clothing, hair etc.
Unfortunately the law as it stands in Berlin allows establishments with a separate room to provide a smoking area, and this place - the Al Hamra (warning: Flash-only website) - has a basement for smokers, and while I didn't notice anything at the time, coming home my clothes have still managed to gain a certain stale, tarry smell which they didn't have before. Still, the situation is vastly better than it was before.
Which brings me to Japan, where the situation is also improving - recently taxis in Tokyo instituted an almost complete ban - but has quite a way to go, especially where restaurants and cafes not belonging to major chains are concerned. By total coincidence I came across a website called "Kinen Style" (禁煙スタイル, Smoke-Free Style), a very useful website with user-supplied data listing businesses throughout Japan with no-smoking policies. There's also an English version, but with hardly any entries.
I wonder how long it will be before smoke-free businesses in Japan are the rule, not the exception?