Smoking

cigarette butts in paris

You probably don’t like looking at that picture above. And I hear ya. But that’s what some of the streets look like in Paris. It’s something that’s become such a problem that the mayor of Paris has decided to try to tackle the issue, and I share his concerns, although progress is evidentially slow-going. But what confounds me, as well as others, is why do so many people in Paris smoke? And why is the number of smokers increasing in France, when the US and other countries are seeing a decline?

Tabac in Paris

Not everyone does smoke in Paris, but walking around the city, it’s hard not to think that everyone does when seemingly a good number of people on the street, or sitting at outdoor café tables, either appears to be lighting something up, or flicking something out. Go to the movies and before the credits roll, folks have already put an unlit cigarette in their mouths with the lighters poised and ready so they can flame up the minute they step outside. Ditto with the métro exits and outside the airport. And walk by any office, or school in mid-afternoon, and the workers and students are lined up on the sidewalk, puffing away.

Due to the stresses of living in city, it’s natural that people in Paris will be heavier smokers than the rest of the country, but on the whole, cigarette smoking enjoys great popularity in France. It’s estimated that one-third of the people in France smoke and that figure jumps when you talk about the 38% of kids aged 15-16 years old who’ve smoked a cigarette recently (10% more than other European countries), and I’ve heard estimates that 50% of teenage girls smoke in France, a number which is on the rise.

1664 and cigarettes tabac paris france

Smoking in France is not stigmatized, and reasons why people smoke so much in France – more than most other European countries – aren’t exactly clear. Like in other places, many teenage boys and girls smoke because of the “cool” factor for sure, but there is also a desire to not gain weight, especially amongst women (and not eat) hence the typical café tableau amongst friends of cell phones, cigarettes, and Coca-Zero (diet Coke) on café tables. (And I’m not the arbiter of “cool”, but I’m not sure how cool it is to support multinational tobacco and soft drink companies.)

But like the mayor noted, it’s not cool to look down the street and notice the residue of smokers which blight this beautiful city: there are literally billions of cigarette butts scattered on the street, which take 12 years to decompose. It’s estimated that there are 30 billion mégots (cigarette butts) on the streets of Paris, which the mayor of Paris has vowed to tackle with a proposed €68 fine per infraction. It’s not quite clear who is going to be issuing those tickets, and it’d be interesting to see some statistics on how many were handed out.

(Talk about bringing in some much-needed revenue – 30 billion x €68 =_________ !)

ashtray

In an effort to at least get people to stub out their cigarettes and throw them in garbage cans, the city of Paris has installed 10,000 “ashtrays” attached to the public garbage cans. But if people can’t even be bothered to stamp out their smoldering cigarette when tossing the mégots (butts) on the ground, are they going to walk 10 meters (32 feet) to extinguish their cigarette? I’ve not seen anyone use one but perhaps they will just take some getting used to and people will, indeed, begin to stub their cigarettes out on them, and throw the butts in the plastic garbage bags, attached.

Personally, I don’t have anything against smoking. (I smoked for a while as well.) We live in a society where we tolerate a number of behaviors that aren’t healthy and/or infringe on others, which include wearing perfume or Axe for Men, driving cars, overpopulating, talking loudly on cell phones, and drinking alcohol. Those are things that, for the most part, we just have to accept about each other. And some people want to smoke, and I am fully supportive of that and that we, as a society, have to accept that we all have our vices. It’s just when things become excessive – the loud drunk, the table of chain-smokers, riding the métro next to a jeune homme wearing Axe, or being seated next to someone in a restaurant wearing too much perfume – then, it becomes a concern.

cigarette butts paris Marlboros

The two arguments I’ve heard most often are, 1) “Well, we’re all going to die sometime!”, and 2) “Ne fume pas? C’est très américain..” (“No smoking? That’s so American..”)

The problem with those two arguments is that, number-one, most of the people saying the first phrase are young and healthy. They haven’t seen people dying of cancer and other smoking-related illnesses, which I have seen, and let me tell you, they are awful, horrible, excruciating ways to die. And the second, that no-smoking is somehow “American” doesn’t cut it because I remember when people smoked in movie theatres and on airplanes in America. And it was during my lifetime that I’ve seen a gradual shift from smoking to non-smoking. People were flipping out when they banned smoking on airplanes in America and now it’s just part of our normal lives not to allow it, similar to many other countries.

(And with 46.6 million smokers in America, I don’t think that non-smoking is exactly très américain.)

Then there is the trait of ‘doing the opposite’ of what you’re told, or doing whatever is bad for you just because, well – c’est comme ça. I don’t know how smoking affects health care costs in France (on the other hand, cigarettes are heavily taxed and cigarette sales augment the tax coffers), but with 66,000 to 73,000 people a year dying in France, it’s likely a fairly substantial burden on the excellent French health care system and social structure.

cigarette butts

A new law is being considered which will make all cigarette packs plain white, with no logo on them, and increasing the price of cigarettes in France a few euros per pack. Right now, one pack of cigarettes costs approximately €7 (the minimum price is €6,1), so if you smoke a pack a day, that’s about €2500 annually. Since the average salary in France is $27,789, or €20,080, that’s more than 10% of someone’s salary just for cigarettes. Personally, I’m not sure how people can afford to spend more than ten-percent of their pre-tax income on cigarettes.

There are days I walk around, watching everyone smoke, and think about all the trash and cigarette butts littering our beautiful streets and boulevards that folks have worked so hard to build and maintain. Sure, Paris isn’t a postcard; it’s a real city with all that comes with it. And I accept that. I just wish there was a bit more civic pride when it came to discarding cigarette butts, and I wonder why there isn’t a groundswell of concern at how many billion of cigarette butts are simply tossed adn left on the street.

cigarette butts

It’s easy to wave it off with a chuckle, saying “Oh, that’s just the French…” and smile. But I’m not sure that’s helpful in curbing smoking-related illnesses, confronting the pollution and toxic runoff from the cigarette butts going into the environment, and marring the look of what is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

So what will be the future of smoking in France? Will smoking rates for young people continue to escalate? Or at some point, will smoking be stigmatized, like it has been in other countries and that number will decrease? And can the mayor’s initiative persuade people not to throw their cigarette butts on the ground, and reduce the amount of pollution on the streets? With the health care system running at a deficit, is there some way they can curb smoking-related illness to keep costs down and reduce the deficit? I don’t have the answer to any of these, but I’ve asking myself these questions lately. I don’t know why it’s been so prevalent in my thoughts lately. Perhaps I should just stop thinking about it, and just step over them, and keep walking.



Related Links and Posts

In Paris, a Hunt for Those Who Dodge Dog Duties (NPR)

Should I Move to France?

Managing Paris Expectations (Lost in Cheeseland)

15 Things I’d Miss in Paris If I Moved Away

France: An Ambivalent War Against Smoking (The Atlantic)

Paris Installs Snuffers on Trash Bins
(NYT)

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202 comments

  • January 29, 2013 8:27pm
    David Lebovitz

    Dorothee: It is kind of amazing how attitudes change. I was watching Mad Med recently, where doctors smoked and pregnant women lit up with their cocktails. (And there is a great scene when the family has a picnic in a park and when they’re done, the mom just shakes all the garbage off the blanket, on to the lawn, and the family gets in the car and drives away.) The smoking ban in restaurants in France was expected to get a lot of opposition and sure, there were people that insisted on lighting up on the métro platforms, trains, etc.. but that kind of petered out and now it’s just normal not to smoke in restaurants.

  • Gregory
    January 29, 2013 10:14pm

    Very interesting…….. making comments and jokes for a country that you chose to live in, and a city that in a way you make a living out of . As an ex pat I never criticized the situation in any country I have lived, always accepted natives and their habits, let alone that I never earned extra money writing a book, blogging or twitting about what I dislike. I managed to have a perfect accent in the foreign languages though , and understand the history and culture and accept any oddities.

    • January 30, 2013 10:01am
      David Lebovitz

      I suppose one tactic is to living in a foreign country is be a passive observer, or adopt the “love it or leave it” kind of philosophy, which is what some espouse in America. But I’m not sure that telling immigrants if they don’t like something, they should simply accept it. Being from San Francisco, I suppose I have a somehwat more acute sense of social awareness and perhaps that why it’s hard for me to see people – including my friends – harming themselves and polluting the city, and the atmosphere, without being affected by it.

      It’s also hard to understand the increase in smoking rates and the litter on the streets, whether or not they are by “accepted natives” or if they are instigated by some of the other people that live here. Paris is a pretty multicultural city and I consider anyone living here full-time a local. But perhaps that’s because I’m used to living in multicultural cities and I tend not to stratify societies, and think of us all as one cohesive mix – whether people live in the swanky 16th or the more rough-and-tumble areas of Barbès, to me, we’re all part of Paris.

      As for Paris, I write a lot about small businesses and some large ones, and spend a pretty good amount of time promoting them, sharing addresses for restaurants, wine bars, bakeries and chocolate shops, highlighting and promoting things like French cheese, butter, chocolate, charcuterie and honey, making videos in local businesses, highlighting outdoor markets, and so forth. But like any city, there is good and not-so-good in it and like anything, the flaws are often just as interesting to me as the good points.

      As I mentioned, if the locals (and visitors) want to smoke, that’s okay with me. But no matter who you are, it’s hard not to be affected by the cigarette butts on the street. And I agree wholeheartedly with the mayor of Paris that the problem needs to be resolved.

      (I will admit that I’m not sure what difference it makes if people have an accent or not. I have French friends..and Italian, Asian, Spanish and Mexican friends…who reside in the US and speak excellent English, who participate fiscally, politically and socially in everyday life, but have accents.)

      • Bob Colman
        January 30, 2013 10:37am

        We all read your blog because we love Paris. It would be wrong for you not to comment on things you notice and are concerned about. After all, you chose to live there as opposed to being born there and perhaps not knowing anywhere else. I’m glad you brought up the topic, it’s a pet bugbear of mine and in time I hope the French will understand the ramifications of the harm they are doing to their otherwise beautiful City (and themselves). Time for a new topic!

  • Bob Colman
    January 29, 2013 10:58pm

    I think David is perfectly entitled to comment on Paris as he sees it and I wouldn’t consider it to be criticism at all. Even the native French are starting to realize they have a problem and unless people discuss issues nothing ever changes.

  • January 30, 2013 12:35am

    @David

    I am concerned about people’s tastebuds… saying you’re not concerned about it, is like saying you don’t care if someone is frigid. Obviously it doesn’t affect you personally, but this man or woman is deprived of one of the great joys of life.

    I care about people’s tastebuds ! (and I’m going to make a t-shirt that says so !)

  • Minette
    January 30, 2013 4:23am

    I wonder how “not-smoking” is advertised or marketed in France. There has been some heavy-duty “non-smoking commercial advertising in the States for several years that I think has had an impact on smoking. Some of the commercials are heartbreaking at best and sickening at worst…

  • Mary Brockmeyer
    January 30, 2013 6:04am

    It’s TRASH…LITTER.. who cares if you smoke? That’s certainly a personal choice, which I have the right to disagree with. But butts on the street are just a blight on a beautiful city – isn’t there any civic pride anymore? Would the same people throw a candy or crisps wrapper on the ground?

  • January 30, 2013 11:49am

    It’s bad enough dodging smokers and their horrible second-hand smoke while walking to work in Paris or just strolling through my favorite park. To see all those cigarette butts on the street is downright disgusting. I do hope the mayor does something more than giving people fines for throwing their cig-butts on the street, park grounds, etc. After all, the French don’t give two figs about a fine and as you said, who’s going to give out these fines?

  • Sally Rawlings
    January 30, 2013 1:48pm

    Hiya David,
    I do love Paris , do hate the butts.. can’t imagine the “Gallic shrug” which I have been given alot in my visits; with out the smoldering cigarette …

  • Joan
    January 30, 2013 2:03pm

    I wonder if Parisians toss their butts on the ground (and dog owners let their pets poop on the sidewalk) because the streets and sidewalks are cleaned so frequently?

    Those little green trucks hosing the sidewalks and the guys the green plastic brooms sweeping the gutters are on my block in the 11th at least twice a week.

    Of course, all those butts (and poop) are probably going straight into the Seine, so that’s not good. But maybe people think because it’s going to be cleaned anyway, it’s not a problem. Like the waiters who won’t bring an ashtray and tell you to toss them “par terre”.

    I’m constantly amazed that one hour after the marché at Bastille closes on Sunday afternoon, there’s not a shred of evidence of the hundreds of people who’d been there all morning. It positively sparkles … thanks to les petits hommes verts !

  • January 30, 2013 3:23pm

    Unfortunately illness however horrible will not deter young smokers because they all think they are never going to die – hence young men being drafted into the forces. There is an incredible fact that people under, say 30, say “If I die” and people older say “when I die”. That is just a fact of life. However if you say to a young man that no young lady will want to kiss him because of the smoking smell on his breath, his hair, his body – that might have an effect. Similarly to young women if you tell them that their smell will put off any possible boy-friend. Also to look at older women who have been smokers all their lives and thus the “smokers” lines around the mouth. That should put off any young girl from starting the dirty and disfiguring habit.

  • Carol Carpenter
    January 31, 2013 5:50am

    David, thank you for your blog and for this article especially. I watch Telematin on TV5 each morning, and recently there was a report from London about the public service videos that the British are doing. There is one that shows a tumor growing out of a cigarette, and others that should be equally upsetting to smokers. I don’t watch much American television and don’t know if the smoking videos are still run, but I wish every cable channel as well as network had to run them every night. People who smoke flippantly say that they have to die anyway, so why not smoke? Their death is not just their affair,however; they leave behind the people who love them and mourn them.

    What is “Axe?”

  • Esme Jones
    January 31, 2013 10:31am

    David,
    I was in Paris last month and could NOT believe how many smokers and cig butts were everywhere. It was awful. My small children even noticed and commented on the “bad smokers.” I am an American who lives in London. It is also bad in London, but I must say Paris is much worse. Europeans, you have so much, so right, but this is so wrong! I hope something can be done…but I agree with you…the answers are hard indeed.

  • January 31, 2013 5:44pm

    I think this was an extremely thoughtful post. My mother has been a long time smoker and it drives me crazy. She smokes outside (my house, car and when she’s required to by law of course) but it stays on her and well, she stinks. I don’t want to hang out at her house for this reason either. When travelling, it can be an annoyance to see her “fiend” and have to stop whatever’s going on for her to have her “nicotine”. I guess I’m just pointlessly ranting here, but I agree with you about the littering factor. And I wish my mother would quit.

  • January 31, 2013 7:34pm

    David, thank you for this excellent post. I hope it will wake up at least one smoker to the dangers and unpleasantness of smoking. I could never convince my mother to quit smoking, and ever since I was a teenager I told her “Yes, but *I* will be the one who will have to take care of you when you’re dying of cancer.” So when I dropped my life and flew 500 miles to take care of her while she was dying of lung cancer, she said “I guess you can say I told you so.” My brother died of esophageal cancer as a result of his smoking. My parents-in-law died of cancer as a result of their smoking. These teenagers need to be shown how uncool and unattractive a death it is!

  • January 31, 2013 8:31pm

    Wow, didn’t expect to feel nauseated on coming to visit your usually delectable website, but your post is still quite welcome and timely. As a pediatrician it’s all I can do to pray and counsel my patients not to smoke – and fortunately these days smoking is not as much an issue in the teens I treat – though they’ve got the gamut of problems going on. . I love visiting Europe but can’t stand the smoke – and how many places one would go where smoking simply is “what is.” I hope that Paris’s mayor succeeds in kicking butts as it were.

    And I’m fed up with European relatives and friends saying that certain things are “so American.” I once offered my earmuffs to a friend while we were walking outside in Europe and she was complaining about her cold ears. Her reply, “No, I don’t want your earmuffs, they’re so American.” Sheesh!

  • Jared
    February 1, 2013 10:51pm

    David, I’m no Francophile and I come to your blog for the food, but I accept that this is a blog about culture as much as food and I don’t mind the discussion about life in Paris at all.

    By the way, my impression in the US has been that smoking is much more accepted in the east than the west. In California people don’t just frown on you for smoking, but on the east coast it was no big deal, or “I can’t believe how we smokers get picked on” all the time.

    I believe I don’t bother smokers much. I don’t tell people to not smoke near me, I don’t tell my friends and relatives that they need to quit or they will die. I don’t avoid smokers on the street or give them dirty looks even though many nowadays apologize or put their cigs down when I talk to them. BUT I HATE THE BUTTS! My herb garden is not an ash tray! Every time I go out to snip some cilantro or chives or rosemary or whatever, I have to pick up butts (and also cheap cigar wrappers, but i think thats because the convenience store around the corner sells those).

    They don’t just toss their butts in public places like parks and city streets, they do it on my lawn and my walk and that is not ok. That goes for dog poo too. I don’t have a dog, I don’t smoke, I shouldn’t have to pick up dog poo or cigarette butts out of my strawberry patch.

    My wife stops what she is doing and thanks dog owners she sees cleaning up after their pets. Maybe we should thank those few who are responsible and don’t litter and think about those around them.

  • February 2, 2013 8:04am

    Maybe the electronic cigarette will become super popular (as it is in LA right now) and all that waste will go bye-bye.

    Thanks for sharing this story. Good to see the grimy side of Paris!

  • Sheila
    February 2, 2013 9:46pm

    The Frenchies can use the extra cash they have in their pockets from all the freebies they get to buy their cigs.
    P.S. We are not far behind in the handouts here at this point

  • Joan
    February 3, 2013 12:21am

    Wow. I guess we can add smoking to the list of things that must not be discussed in polite society … like sex, politics and religion.

    I’m a little surprised at the vitriol towards smoking in general … not just the bad manners of tossing butts on the street as David was pointing out.

    Remember, it’s still a legal product. Like Coca-Cola and KFC. They’re not much healthier either and possibly worse in the long run for the person consuming them.

    When tobacco become illegal, we can all share in the outrage. Until then …

    • Bob Colman
      February 3, 2013 11:18pm

      “Like Coca-Cola and KFC. They’re not much healthier either and possibly worse in the long run for the person consuming them”. Well, they are pretty bad too but worse? I don’t think so.

  • Maggie
    February 3, 2013 6:57pm

    Very interesting and obviously provocative post on the “not so sweet” side of life in Paris. Thank you David.

  • Fluff
    February 4, 2013 3:00am

    I think those numbers are soft. From high school to college, there were only maybe 4-5 people who weren’t smoking out of a group of 40 maybe. It’s been the same throughout my professional life. There’s largely more than 1/3 of people smoking in Paris. And about 70% of the smokers I know have been “trying” to quit for years.
    So in one word it comes down to willpower. They start when they are too young to know better and it’s “cool” (never really got what’s cool about doing what everyone else does) and then they just cannot stop because they’re addicted.
    I think the saddest thing is seeing people standing in hordes outside restaurants, in -3° weather because they just can’t eat without having at least 3 cigarette breaks during dinner. That should be enough to make them stop but no.
    At least now, the non smokers can eat without smoking and breathe in doors. My asthma says thank you.

  • cara_mia
    February 5, 2013 5:27am

    Wow, your cigarette prices are even higher than in NY! The minimum is around $10 upstate and $12 in NYC per pack. (Over half of that is taxes.) At $160 for a carton, it’s amazing anyone still smokes. And I see people bumming cigarettes outside my office every day. Not only can they afford them, they can afford to give them away! Between the prices and the fact that you can no longer smoke in restaurants and bars in NY, or within 25 feet of a lot of buildings, a lot of people have given it up. Some of my friends were only able to quit when the bar ban went into effect – there would no longer be that temptation if they wanted to go out after they quit.

    The litter reminds me of your mention that people in NYC during your last trip were picking up trash. Maybe they’ve been scared straight knowing that Anderson Cooper went vigilante and stopped a lady from throwing a banana peel in the mailbox.

  • fishsticksforme
    February 6, 2013 3:17pm

    David for mayor!

  • Julia
    February 7, 2013 5:15am

    Sorry, but it’s just scummy. I don’t care what age you are, what nationality, whether you smoke or not, but throwing cigarette butts like that is just scummy. Parisian chic, I guess…

  • Chris
    February 8, 2013 4:18pm

    According to wiki, cigarettes consumption per capita is higher in the US, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium or Germany than in France.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_cigarette_consumption_per_capita

    According to this other website, there are 27 % smokers in France, compared to 36 % in Austria, 33 % in Luxembourg or 29 % in the Netherlands.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_dai_smo-health-daily-smokers

    Still according to the Guardian, there more cigarettes smoked per person in the US, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Italy, Switzerland, Spain or Austria (twice more in the case of Austria, Switzerland, Spain) than in France.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/mar/23/tobacco-industry-atlas-smoking

    It seems that the idea that everybody smokes in France is the mother of all false clichés (or simply something which evolved so dramatically in the last 30 years for many foreign tourists visiting France only once in a lifetime to take notice). Or are they more occasional smokers in France than in any other countries?

    But, crap toilets, dog scrap on the pavements, rude waiters in Paris (and friendly ones in the Province). I concur with all of that.

  • Abby
    February 9, 2013 4:19pm

    Interesting post and observations.

    I live in the Zurich area of Switzerland, and the smoking here in unbelievable. The rates are not that much higher here in Switzerland than elsewhere in the Western world (US, France, etc.), though I have not been able to figure out if they are particularly high in Zurich or not.

    The issue is second hand smoke. Smoking is permitted in all but a few zones (some bars and restaurants, trains, etc. A lot of bars still have smoking sections). For example, smoking is not allowed on the train, but it is allowed on the platform and inside parts of the station. So, people take a drag on their cigarette before boarding the train, and exhale on the train. Or light up in a crowded rush-hour stairwell. I definitely know that I’m inhaling more second hand smoke here than I was in N America.

    Given the known carcinogenic and other ill-health causing effects of second hand smoke, I really do think that public policy must more effectively balance the needs of smokers and of non-smokers.

    Cigarettes are still sold in vending machines here, there are billboard advertisements, advertisements in the movies during the previews, etc. It is not very culturally relativistic of me to say this, but honestly, it feels like going back in time.

    There is a small amount of momentum to ban smoking in more areas, thanks to it being framed as an occupational health issue for wait staff. I remember that having a big influence on the bans in Canada, so I’m hopeful that will gain some traction here.

    I haven’t noticed the litter here, but I’ll look now.

  • February 10, 2013 5:23pm

    I just discovered your blog a few days ago, and since that, I spend a happy time on it, reading old posts and jumping from one link to another.
    I’m French and live in Paris the fourty first years of my life before moving to Germany, in a little town in the middle of nowhere, and later on to Morocco. Kind of a huge cultural gap each time :)

    As the years pass by, I recognize “my country” and “my city” changed so much that I’m not so much at home there. And the photos you show here just shocked me. It was not like that before, and it’s obviously the large ban on smoking in public places that triggers this uncivil behavior.

    When I compare to Morocco, where smoking is as widespread as drinking tea, no-smoking areas a kind of a wishful thinking and attention and care for common assets and city cleanliness just a strange concept, we don’t have such butt littered places. Because there are ashtrays everywhere…

    My husband is a smoker, and he always take care of throwing his butt in an appropriate place, ashtray, litter bin or, when we are in the car, a old plastic cup with a little bit of water, as we don’t want the “fragrance” of old cigarette to stay in our ashtray.

    I imagine the practical answer to that would be a bio – quickly degradable but, maybe in corn or whatsoever :)

  • Jon
    February 13, 2013 4:08am

    Why so much?

    http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=France#Tobacco_industry_involvement_in_France

    And why is it a problem?

    Secondhand smoke causes heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. This is not an American thing; secondhand smokesmoke does thenot same thingas to French heats and lungs that it does to American hearts and lungs.

  • Tina
    February 19, 2013 9:55pm

    I am 65 yrs old and I’m a smoker. I have been lucky enough that I have never required hospitalization or had any type of health issues unless it was having my children. No high blood pressure, no diabetes, etc. I work a full time job, in a stressful environment and have raised my 5 children as a single parent. By the end of the day having a cigarette and a glass of wine has kept me sane. I don’t lecture anybody on how to live their lives, I wish everybody would do the same. BUT it does pain me to see all those cigarette butts, littering such a beautiful city. It costs nothing to dispose of trash. That’s a no-no. My neighborthood is full of people who walk their dogs and don’t pick up their poop. I end up picking it because I have a couple of shrubs and trees that cute dogs favor, it seems.

    Mr. Lebovitz, thank you for the recipes. I especially like the Chubaka (my grandson called it that) Shakshuka recipe.

    • February 20, 2013 7:36am
      David Lebovitz

      I’m not a fan of standing around smokers – and I wish people would quit. But I realize that that’s part of living in a society with a lot of different kinds of people. However I don’t understand why people can’t put their cigarette butts in the garbage. The photo that I took by the bicycles was in front of a building (I think it was a school) and there was a giant ashtray right next to the front door of the building, where everyone stands to smoke. I don’t know why people can’t walk a few feet and extinguish their cigarettes in there but I am now a fan of banning cigarette filters. If people want to smoke, that’s fine. But at least when they drop the ends on the streets and sidewalks, they will be less-harmful for the environment, and less a blight on the city.

  • February 21, 2013 2:38pm

    Wow. I’m shocked and saddened by your post. Particularly by the photos which are appalling (but I’m sure could have been taken here in Australia too), but also that more people are smoking in Paris. I’ve been to Paris twice, and haven’t noticed the butts being so bad. We first went in 1998, and returned in 2010- I thought that there was much less smoking on the second trip, perhaps we just went to different places that trip? I hope that those images aren’t my memories of my next trip to Paris in June, but I do thank you for such an interesting, and unexpected post.

  • Cheryl
    February 23, 2013 5:11am

    As someone who has never smoked & whose father died of coronary thrombosis at 42 years of age when I was 17 because of cigarettes, I was appalled to see the state of Paris’ streets on a trip with my 2 young kids last year. My kids (6 & 8) were disgusted. Asthma runs on both sides of our family & at 47 I started getting severe attacks, strong perfumes & cigarette smoke make me very ill.

    I find it annoying to say the least when smokers treat me like a pariah when I ask them to put it out, especially when we’re eating at out-door restaurants. To light up where others are still eating, then watch them heaving from the smoke irritating their lungs & continue to blow smoke their way goes beyond being selfish. At home I think we should all be allowed to do as we please, but in public we should all be aware of the people around us & have respect to understand parents not wanting their children breathing in 2nd hand smoke. We don’t live in a perfect world, but a little bit more consideration & less self-entered attitude would go a long way.

    What I also find bewildering is why are the Parisiens not proud enough of their city to keep it cleaner in the first place, they are making the place ugly & contributing to the stress of city life leaving oceans of cigarette butts for everyone to wade through…is there no shame, dignity or pride?

    • February 23, 2013 9:15am
      David Lebovitz

      There is an unfortunate amount of littering in general, and not just cigarette butts. So the city of Paris has also just launched an ad campaign to get people to stop throwing trash on the street and put it in the garbage cans that are prevalent across the city.