When you think about Paris, you think about Parisian smoking behaviour. Many Parisians will tell you if you come to visit our wonderful city that if you want to enjoy it completely you have to be smoking. Don’t worry, this is not actually true.
You’ll feel the same if you walk in the streets without any cigarette in your mouth. But still, for many Parisians, smoking is a very natural thing and it is an important part of our life.
Almost all of us are at least aware that we are smoking too much and have come to ask ourselves why it is so. I personally have come to three major explanations about why Parisians smoke that much.
The first one to me is because of the cafés. It is a very special tradition in France to spend entire days at a cafés just sitting with some friends commenting all the people passing by and exchanging the last news. It is actually quite boring. So what we do when we have nothing else to do is smoke.
And it is even easier in France because every single café in Paris has a terasse that is here all year round (they put some heaters in the winter). It can be raining, snowing, 40 degrees or freezing, Parisians will always be there, at the terasse of cafés smoking cigarette after cigarette, talking about the time passing and the people passing by.
Another good reason is because of esthetic. Parisians are esthetes and they claim and reclaim it. And we must admit that smoking has actually an esthetic part at some point, if we forget about the smell. This is why for example Parisian women will often smoke more than Parisian men.
It is all about how we look like with a cigarette in the hand. And we have so many models of great French or foreign women that smoked and made an art out of it that we can’t help to feel like them when we smoke. I could quote for example Coco Chanel or Audrey Hepburn. Whatever it is going to cost to our health, we will have looked classy and distinguished.
The third reason is about relationships. Smoking is an excellent way to socialize and to meet some new people during the time of a “pause clope”. And this is even more important for Parisians that they are maybe the ones that hate the most loneliness.
To be alone during a pause or a lunch is a very hard and shaming thing for a Parisian. Our whole life is about socialization. A cigarette is the best way to find some company? Even non smokers will reckon it.
And the last but not least reason is about financial reasons. Even is cigarettes are very expensive in France, we never forget that we are not the ones that are going to pay for the cancer we are going to have when we get older. Health insurance is very good in France and the State covers almost all the costs of a cancer treatment.
So even if it is still a very scary perspective, it is less frightening when we know that at least we won’t have to pay for it. Of course this is not a good reason but Parisians tend to get pretty stupid when it gets to the topic of cigarette!