How does that old song go? “Tell Saint Peter at the Golden Gate that you just hate to make him wait, but you gotta have just one more cigarette.”

Whew, that was a close one. Let’s light one up. For a few hours there it looked like smokers in Germany would get their rights trampled upon (for once) and be asked to smoke outside like they make those pitiful smokers do in, gulp, Nordamerika (the Northern American non-smoking wilderness). Oh yeah, and in the rest of Europe, too.

Germany now has one of Europe’s most liberal smoking laws and one of the highest rates of tobacco use.

And the law that was just put on the table to ban smoking in most indoor public places throughout the country will have to be dropped because a national ban would be too easy to challenge on constitutional grounds, experts say. At least the way this law was drafted, that is. This type of thing currently falls under the jurisdiction of the 16 German states and only a change to the constitution or better “rewording” of the law would make such a ban, well, legal.

Of course other experts say that the government is just bending to the tobacco lobby. Hmmm. Something tells me here that this is one of those rare cases where both groups of experts are right.

But you better smoke fast folks. The Bundesländer (states) will be wasting no time now to take action on their own and your days of languidly puffing smoke into the face of that annoying non-smoking guest seated across from you at your favorite restaurant or bar will soon be over. You are about to be discriminated against. And you will also soon be added to the endangered urban species list. Which is about time, too, I might add.

The United States might again be the land of extremes when it comes to this current non-smoking mania making the rounds these days (and years), but Germany (for once) has placed itself on the other extreme end of this no-win issue.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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