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Welcome Back, Smoker!

July 30, 2007

At least according to one upstart airline, who says Thank You For Smoking.

DUESSELDORF, Germany — At the international airport in this western German city, smokers are shunned. If you want to light up, you’re restricted to a handful of bars in the terminal, or else stuck puffing on the dingy street outside.

Soon, however, tobacco lovers from around the world could be beating a path to Duesseldorf. A start-up airline based here plans to offer long-haul luxury flights — to Asia, at first — that cater to smokers, countering a decades-long global trend that has made it impossible to enjoy a cigarette on most passenger flights.

The new airline is called, naturally, Smoker’s International Airways, or Smintair for short. The founder is a local entrepreneur who promises a return to the days when air travel was considered glamorous, when stewardesses were happy to bring you a glass of scotch, and when smoking in the lavatory didn’t risk criminal prosecution.

This fabulous new airline might very well be the answer to my recent (and of no particular origin excepting oddity) debilitating and admittedly pathetic fear of flying. The very idea of sending the militant anti-smoking crusaders into an apoplectic fit is reason enough. Add in booze and food and it is heavenly. Why drink and drive when you can drink, smoke and fly? (note: I don’t really drink and drive, but I do have…..surprise surprise, NOT….an issue with the obnoxiously low blood alcohol level laws. I’m kind of small. ONE drink puts me right at the legal limit)

The only catch is that the only flights at first will be from Germany to Japan, as apparently 1/3 of Japanese adults smoke and 1/4 of Germans smoke which is shocking considering that smoking is the evil of all evils, yet Japan is quite the healthy nation. The healthiest, in fact. How can this be? With all that 2nd hand smoke floating about? Perplexing! Anyhoo, sadly neither Germany or Japan are anywhere within my proximity. oh yeah, and I’m not rich. The flights will start at around $6,000 a ticket. I do, nonetheless, now have a humongous crush, sight unseen, on the founder of the airline, Mr.Schoppmann (or is it Herr?). Just take a look at what is posted on the airline’s Job portal:

Allergics to any kind of smoke or aviation specific conditions, militant Anti-Smokers, or people with other social deficiencies are kindly asked to not apply”

Tee hee! What’s not to love? And there’s more!:

“People think the cabin will be full of smoke, which is bollocks,” he said. “The air on Smintair will be more refreshing than on a normal flight. You will not even notice the smell of somebody smoking a cigarette or pipe in the next seat.”

Not that there’s anything inherently unhealthy about tobacco smoke, insists Schoppmann, who adds that he doesn’t believe a word of the warning labels printed on tobacco products. He’s already gotten into a public spat with the World Health Organization, dismissing public health concerns over secondhand smoke as “the biggest scam of all times.”

“I’m just another healthy smoker,” said Schoppmann, who inhales about a pack a day. “I haven’t seen a sick smoker in my life. The only thing I see are sick nonsmokers, and they are always sick with all sorts of crap.”

Again, genius Mr. (Herr) Schoppman! ‘Tis true; militant non-smokers do seem to suffer from every allergy and ailment known to man. And everyone I know who flies does often get some sort of bug after their trip. It seems as if airlines figured that once the dastardly smoke was gone, then no need to crank up the air circulating thingies. Uh, what about ACTUAL health risks (as I must note the preponderence of studies indicating 2nd hand smoke has next to ZERO adverse health effects) and not just convenient scapegoats? Like real germs? Screeching toddlers? And rancid body odor? OK, the last two are just pet peeves of mine and minor inconveniences (hmm, like passive smoke), but the germs part is real.

An aside: I, out of morbid curiosity and a sad need to punish myself, perused some liberal blogs regarding this airline story. As you can imagine, they were filled with the expected “oh gross. It won’t last because smart people will refuse to be exposed to such evil carcinogens” proving once again that they have a hard time either reading or comprehending or both. Hello? You don’t HAVE to fly on that airline. Not to mention that I’m pretty sure you’d be hard-pressed to afford the ticket price what with your being unemployed students, professional “protesters” and full-time Health Nannies and all. The worst comments of the bunch were ones that actually stated thing like “I hope they all get cancer”. Not kidding. Nice, huh? The wonderfully compassionate and caring “progressives” at work.

Hey, I have an idea. Stop imposing your choices on others. No one will FORCE you to fly on a vile smoking plane. Unlike how you FORCE smokers to fly on a boring, germ-filled, nicotine withdrawal hell, smokeless flight.

Before this turns into a tome (yes, I do ramble. Apologies!), I’ll leave off with wishing much success to Smintair! And a thank you for doing your part for freedom and personal choice. If I ever win the lottery, I’ll be sure to book a flight with you forthwith. Hint, hint: I’d love a trip to Australia. Try to fit that into your later flight patterns. Thanks!

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