In the Achterhoek, a part of the eastern province of Gelderland that protrudes into Germany, water pipe cafés are apparently popping up like weeds, if we believe what the papers are saying.
‘Hookahs’ (aka water pipes) let people smoke flavored tobacco called ‘shisha’ in which the smoke is passed through a glass water basin before it is inhaled. Yes, it’s still smoking and it is unhealthy, but it is legal and currently circumvents the smoking ban. Hookahs can be smoked in public spaces and shisha lounges as long as there are no drugs such as hashish (soft drugs) in the pipe.
And now there’s trying to stop smoking 2.0 using a Facebook app, created for the Dutch anti-smoking council, called ‘Blackmail yourself’. And before you go ‘pfff’, think of all adverts in your country making people feel guilty by showing blackened lungs and yellow teeth, or teenagers trying to act cool and all those ads that never ever worked.
I have a problem with the video’s narration, telling you to pick a controller (friend) and “giving him permission to post your picture if he ever spots you with a cigarette again.” I don’t understand why such a presumably important message is in English (speaking of trying to be cool) and assumes everyone is a ‘he’, as women smoke too and probably also want to quit.
I dare to suggest that there is no such thing as an anti-smoking campaign that works. In recent years banning smoking in public places and in bars and cafés in the Netherlands seemed to be the only thing that has had some effect.
While outgoing Minister of Health Ab Klink blew up his own political career recently with his yes-no-yes-no behaviour at a crucial moment, now one of his biggest political accomplishments is being turned over: the smoking ban.
After fighting tooth and nail, small cafe owners with no staff will be allowed to smoke and allow smoking in their establishment. Although the smoking ban has been in effect since 2008 and there have been creative people with small cafes fighting it, the first nation-wide exception is coming up. This is a big ‘international sign of friendship’ salute to Mr Klink.
Besides the obvious monetary arguments, protecting staff again smoking when you don’t have staff is nonsensical. The Netherlands is funny that way.
On Sunday 22 August retired entrepreneur Frits Langeveld from the Dutch island of Texel where many a good beer comes from will be presenting a new beer called ‘Tessels Wrakhout’ (not the one shown here) with a real smoky taste. So smoky according to some smokers that they don’t feel like reaching for a cigarette. The key ingredient is smoked malt that is apparently not used by breweries much, although German ‘rauchbier’ has been around for ages.
The idea was that smokers now have to go outside the bar to have a smoke and that maybe smoked beer is the answer to keeping them indoors and not interrupting the fun. It’s surprising nobody in the Netherlands thought of it this way before.
I think it’s exaggerated to call it innovative, in fact doing so is symptomatic of the rampant short-sightedness in the business community. I’d call it resourceful: finally looking outside Dutch borders for answers.
Who said trying to quit smoking couldn’t be fun? On 1 March, Lianne Sleebos of the Delft University of Technology will be launching My Stop Buddy, an app to help people stop smoking. For a mere 2,99 euro, you can choose an English or Dutch app that will support you for 21 days. Fill in a personal profile and you will get activity suggestions to help you not reach for a ‘cancer stick’, lots of jokes about health and information on how much money you saved by not smoking. You can also push buttons according to you mood and you’ll be told why you’re going for a smoke according to it. It sounds like a nagging grandmother so far, but hey, I haven’t seen it yet and I do hope it works. I am curious about the English version, translations and all.
And although 2,99 euro is much cheaper than a pack of cigarettes, the iPhone isn’t, but OK you can get one for free with a certain telecom provider here in the Netherlands.
When the smoking ban for bars was introduced last year, it hit Groningen bar De Balk as hard as any other café. Owner Aethne McGhie, originally from Scotland, turned a storage room into a smoking room, but the result was that the bar area itself looked absolutely dead. Her remaining customers came up with an idea: why not turn things around, move the actual bar into the storage room, and the former bar area into the smoking area. And so it was done. The result is that people now have to walk to the former storage room to get their drinks, but, McGhie told Parool (Dutch), even the toughest customers soon learned how to play nice.
The professional busy bodies who have to enforce the ban on fun, the Voedsel en Warenautoriteit (VWA), grudgingly admitted to De Telegraaf (Dutch) that this ploy is actually legal. “But we wouldn’t necessarily call it a legal bar,” a spokesperson said. Turns out that they found a technicality with which they can still cause problems for De Balk. Apparently, the law that says that a room where drinks are served must have a minimal size hasn’t been adapted to take the new circumstances that the smoking ban created into account.
Another entity that won’t call De Balk “the first legal smoking bar” is perhaps not surprisingly Hiermaghetwel.nl (Dutch), the website that keeps track of all the bars in the Netherlands where you can legally smoke. They point out that Café Populair in Amsterdam was the first to come up with the idea of a small bar section and large smoking area, way back in September last year (AT5, Dutch).
Source photo: Google Street View, a Dutch version of which was introduced a couple of days ago.
Filed under: Art,History by Branko Collin @ 5:12 pm
Today Robert Jasper Grootveld was buried in Amsterdam. The day started with a ‘happening’ at Spui square, followed by a service, after which Grootveld, one of the leaders of the 1960s Provo movement, was sailed to the Zorgvlied cemetery on top of a styrofoam raft for burial. 24 Oranges was present at the happening and also took photos of the boat ride to the cemetery.
At the Spui Grootveld was carried around the Lieverdje statue three times while people shouted “hi – ha – happening” and “uche uche uche” (cough cough cough). In the mid-Sixties Grootveld, self-proclaimed ‘anti-smoke magician’, would hold happenings in the square in which he would circle the statue that had been put there by cigarette manufacturer Crescent .
The War on Fun is all nice and dandy, but apparently it shouldn’t impede on the little pleasures that its proponents enjoy. Mayor Ruud Vreeman of Tilburg, member of the PvdA (Labour) party that’s in the fun-hating government coalition that banned smoking in bars last year, lights up a cigar now and then in his office. According to Brabants Dagblad (Dutch), the mayor was found out because the stench of his cigars was noticed by a visitor.
A city spokesperson told Revu (Dutch): “‘Vreeman knows it’s not allowed. He will stop immediately. He regrets smoking in the building and will never do it again.”
Last Tuesday the mayor of Deurne in Noord Brabant was questioned by the city council about his smoking in a public bar. Since July of this year smoking has been banned in bars in the Netherlands. The ban has met with a lot of resistance, and many smokers openly defy the law. As far as I am aware this is the first time that a public official was caught red-handed breaking the anti-smoking law. A salient detail is that mayor Gerard Daandels of Deurne is a member of CDA, the Christian party that is in the vanguard of the Jihad against fun: it was CDA minister Klink that proposed the smoking ban.
Daandels response: “You can hold me responsible for everything in matters of enforcement, but not for this unenforceable measure. [...] I went to three bars where people were smoking. If a hundred people are smoking, you no longer give an example by not smoking.”
The Department of Public Health commented: “Even mayors are bound by the law.”
With the ban on smoking in cafés comes the inevitable stink of us non-smokers. We reek of sweat and of not knowing how to have a good time, just the way our Protestant government wants it. A company in Groningen wants to remedy the former. Rwin Showtechniek rents out a device that will spread any of an array of 150 scents across a room, including the smell of a good Havana, and of cigarettes. Shown here is the Multi-Scent 1, which can disperse one scent through a room, but Rwin Showtechniek claims to be able to spread multiple scents at once, which probably means they also bought a Multi-Scent 3 or 6.