June 24, 2006

Europe is generally cleaner than America, with one notable exception

Compared to most American metropolitan areas, many of the cities we visited in Western Europe (e.g. Munich, Brussels, Zurich (pictured)) don't merely look cleaner--the air quality is also leaps and bounds better than what we breathe here in the States (especially New York). For an asthmatic bastard like me, this makes all the difference in the world.

On the other hand, you can't walk into a bar over there without breathing in second-, third-, and fiftieth-hand smoke. According to the WHO, 40% of men and 32% of women smoke in Germany, compared to 25% and 20% in America (CDC numbers). Being there, it seemed like even more of a pronounced difference. This could be because we were mostly hanging out with young people, and a third of the population in Germany smokes by age 15. That's disturbing.

While America now manages its smokers fairly well with a ban on smoking in public places, one thing is the same between the two countries: the marketing.

Für Mehr is almost phonetic in English--it means "for more." Smoke more and get laid more: the message is simple. Some things, I suppose, are universal.

Your Comment