Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Germans

We all have this idea of the Germans being hugely law abiding citizens, people who will stick to hte regulations no matter what.

Photographer Frank Blum puffed contentedly on a hand-rolled cigarette in a cafe in central Berlin, blatantly ignoring a ban that went into effect in most of Germany this month.

"I'm smoking because no one's stopping me," Blum, 43, said from behind his laptop, one of a dozen customers happily smoking without fear. "The cafes aren't making it difficult."

Blum is just one of many disobeying a law banning smoking in public places -- cafes, bars, restaurants and night clubs -- in force in Berlin and 11 other German states from January 1.

Hmm, it appears that stereotype might need a little revision then.

However, there is one very good reason why the German authorities are being ver lax on enforcement here: there's still memory of the last large scale attempt to get Germans to stop smoking. A campaign started and pursued by one A. Hitler. Touchy subject really.

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