Monday, 24 February 2014

Blowing smoke - it's a question of manners

It was a gorgeous late summer day in Melbourne yesterday. I took advantage and met a friend for breakfast in the Village. We went to one of the old cafes that has recently taken advantage of outdoor space under trees by laying some astro turf and placing tables and chairs and removing a wall from their cafe.

It was to be expected that there would be more people than tables and so we started scouting for a couple of spaces on the end of someone else's table. We soon found it, joining a family who left minutes after we arrived. There was space for four or five other people, but we had eaten all of our food and were waiting to order our second coffee by the time we had people join us.

Three people sat down and within seconds, two of them had started to smoke cigarettes. I am an anti-smoking non-smoker and find the idea of sharing a table with a bunch of smokers abhorrent. We were outdoors, but I still think that good manners would dictate they seek permission to smoke before lighting up. We were there first and they were joining us. If we sat down where people were already smoking, it would be a different matter.  If permission had been sought I would have politely replied that I did mind if they smoked and would prefer that they move away from the table to do so.

We weren't going to be there much longer, so neither of us said anything. I wasn't in the mood for a confrontation. I was also quite unsure about what the actual laws are, not that the legal position should preclude common decency.

I'm interested to discover that smoking in outdoor dining areas is allowed in Victoria, subject to the position of the walls and whether or not there is a roof. There were no walls and no roof (other than a lovely canopy of trees) so these people weren't doing anything "wrong".

I'm left wondering why the smokers - an increasingly small minority - are allowed to hijack the best spots when dining out in Melbourne.

Would you have said something? 

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