Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Up in smoke

People who still smoke are widely held to be morons, either because they’re educated and should know better, or because they’re not, and don’t. They populate large swathes of the planet, including most of Europe, Southeast Asia and the Far East, but as the world becomes more health-conscious they are becoming an increasingly embattled lot. In the United States they have largely been legislated out of existence, though a few remaining specimens can sometimes be discovered gibbering behind small pieces of furniture.

One of the most trying situations for today’s smoker is to be on an airplane, which combines the world’s highest levels of boredom with the world’s lowest tolerance for smoke and fire of any sort. Back in the day this was not so; even as recently as six years ago, I was on a flight from Switzerland to India via Turkey which was delayed in Istanbul; facing restive passengers, the crew simply moved all the smokers to the rear section of the craft and begged us to light up. And nobody up front complained. Those were the days.

Now there is hope in sight for smokers who need their nicotine fix even while travelling. If German entrepreneur Alexander Schoppmann has his way, committed smokers (and they’re all committed) will soon be able to travel internationally again without losing their tempers. Assuming that Schoppmann can drum up his investor pennies, Smokers’ International Airline, or Smintair, is scheduled to take off in March next year. Its two leased Boeing 747s will fly only between Dusseldorf and Japan, both of which have large smoker populations, but it’s a start.

The whole idea sounds a little kooky, and a look at the Smintair website compounds the impression. Under the professional-sounding dropdown labelled ‘Thoughts’, Schoppmann presents his mission statement in typically eccentric wealthy European style, excerpted here warts and all: ‘I'd like to take the opportunity to clear one of the biggest lies floating around everywhere in the World:
"Second Hand Smoke (SHS, a.k.a. ETS, Environmental Tobacco Smoke) damages your health".
The WHO (World Health Orgaisation) confirms in all of it's studies concerning the subject, that ETS has not even a statistcally relevant effect on the non-smoker's health! If you want to go deeper into the subject, without prejudice, please refer to following link: http://www.thetruthisalie.com. You will be more than surprised of the amount of facts and neutral proof. By the way, did you know that the NAZIs also sported a huge Anti-Smoking campaign? Yes, they did and the one we experience now, frightningly, carries exactly the same insignia.’ (Sic to all that.)

You have to take your hat off to the man’s enthusiasm for smoking, and I have nothing but sympathy for the hardships faced by smokers, but he sounds, to use a colourful English expression, mad as a bag of frogs. Speaking of which, I can’t help but feel a bit paranoid myself when I read, that ‘the renowned technicians of LUFTHANSA will maintain and repair our aircrafts on all service intervals specified by BOEING with only original parts allowed during the process.’

Only original parts? What the hell does everyone else use?

On the other hand, Schoppmann intends for there to be only first (€ 10,000 return) and business class (€ 6,500) seats, and for the cabin crew to be very pretty and wearing uniforms that will be redesigned every two years to keep them fashionable, and he plans to spend three times as much as anyone else on every passenger’s nourishment, and he claims that non-smokers are not only welcome but would actually benefit from Smintair’s smint-fresh cabin air, which costs more but is better for your health.

That should reel them in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with sleeping pills?