Fags for nothing
Smoking is one of the things that annoys me most about living in China (yes, there are a few, including spitting, squat toilets, drivers not indicating, internet censorship etc). Whilst the West has finally woken up to the dangers of passive smoking and how antisocial the whole thing is, China still has a tobacco and cancer epidemic on it hands. The West coast cities - Beijing, Shanghai and the like - have successfully banned smoking in most public places, but Kunming is "far from the Emperor" and although you see more "No Smoking" signs these days, they are widely ignored. Even in the staff room at my University, supposedly educated Professors light up underneath signs forbidding smoking [see photo] and other teachers just turn a blind eye. I've asked the non-smoking staff why they say nothing and the common response is they prefer to avoid confrontation and maintain relationships. Not me. Being foreign gives me a certain leeway in confronting them and politely asking them to smoke outside. I've had apologies, nervous giggles and angry grunts, but none has yet to refuse. My one-man anti-smoking campaign continues!
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Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
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