Turtle Bunbury

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New Package for Irish Smokers

This article was a spoof-piece commissioned in April 2005 by Abroad to gain the magazine some extra inches in the Irish media. It worked brilliantly. The concept of "Smoker's Holidays" was discussed on Eamon Dunphy's Last Word and featured in most tabloids.

Abroad has learned that a major Irish tour operator, rumoured to be Top Flight or Panorma, is preparing to offer special package tours exclusively aimed at the lesser-spotted Irish Smoker. While details of the proposed tours remain sketchy, it is believed a brochure will be released early in the new year.
The concept is likely to be welcomed by the nation's increasingly ostracized smoking minority. Since Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace on March 29, Ireland's puffers have been obliged to stand outside whenever they wish to spark up. "We have effectively been smoked out", says Kinsale accountant, Seoirse Sceach. "It's okay in the summer but it's going to be hell when the winter kicks in."

The "Smoker's Holiday" is almost certainly inspired by the remarkable boom in New Jersey where bar takings have reportedly increased by 20 - 30% since a similar ban was imposed on neighbouring New York in March 2003. This autumn, tour operators in the Big Apple were inundated with calls from citizens seeking to escape the State boundary and enjoy a nicotine fix with their drink.

Since the March 29 ban, pubs and bars on the southern frontier of Northern Ireland have likewise reported a substantial increase in the number of the Republic's citizens crossing the border to escape what they perceive to be a draconian legislation. "I have two choices", explains Angus Craigie, a mechanic from the Mongahan town of Glaslough. "I can either go to my local and stand outside whenever I want a cigarette. Or I can head [across the border] to Caledon [Co. Tyrone] and smoke inside".

For the hundreds of thousands of Irish smokers who live farther away from the Northern Irish border, options are considerably more limited. As the winter gets underway, travel companies in Dublin are preparing for an onslaught of bookings from Irish smokers. "A lot of people want to know whether they can still smoke on any airlines. The simple answer is they can't, unless they fly with Algerian Airways or the like. But we can book them into hotels where smoking is permitted and that seems to be very popular since the ban came in".

The precise nature of the "Smoker's Holiday" packages is not yet known. But we are willing to speculate on ten of the likelier ports of call.

Europe Puffing Spots

  • Scotland
    Smokers have been heading across the Irish Sea in their droves to party with their Celtic brethren since the March 29 ban. With plans underfoot to impose a similar ban on Scottish smokers in 2005, Scotland's 7500 pubs and bars have been considering a major drop in the price of a pint to keep the Irish smokers coming.
  • Paris
    Mais bien sur, the French capital just cannot be overlooked. Love 'em or loathe them, it was the French who made smoking sexy in the first place. In fact, nicotine is named after a Frenchman, Jean Nicot who introduced tobacco to the city in 1559. Face it, there's just nothing like puffing on a filterless Gauloise after a croque monsieur and a glass of Pernod. And moreover, you can fill your suitcase with cheap packets of fags for the journey home.
  • Spain
    True, a smoking ban might reduce the number of Brits rumbling around its southern shores, but that's unlikely to cut it in a country where everyone carries around their own personal cigarette case. That way, you don't have to read about impotency and impending death every time you reach for a Fortuna or Ducados.
  • Copenhagen
    A country where 8 billion cigarettes are smoked every year - and nobody gives a hoot! From the Queen to the ugly duckling, every Dane smokes. In Copenhagen airport, they have special designated areas where non-smokers can stand. Indeed, the otherwise health conscious Danes practically salute fellow chain-smokers for their courageous commitment to lowering the national debt by paying such high taxes.
  • Athens
    They may have hosted a mighty tobacco-free athletics contest this summer but the most truly Olympian feat of modern Greeks is their calibre for smoking. 45% of citizens inhale, putting them top of the EU pops for highest per capita consumption of cigarettes.

Around the World

  • Cuba
    "If I cannot smoke cigars in heaven," declared Mark Twain, "I shall not go." Communist Cuba has long wowed the capitalist world with its sensuous blend of fragrant cigars and you'll still be hard pushed to beat these hearty ticklers. Nowhere can there be a more romantic name for a cigar than the best-known of all, Romeo y Julieta.
  • Tokyo
    For Japan's 55% smoking majority, the concept of a ban is as likely as an invasion by African pygmies. Brands like "Mild Seven" come emblazoned with quaint messages like "Try not to smoke too much. And be sure to observe smoker's etiquette". Tokyo's streets are full of ivory toothed campaign girls handing out free sample packs to passers by and at €2.50 a pack, cigarettes don't come much cheaper. Or easier - there's one vending machine for every 250 people.
  • Egypt
    Those canny maestros who brought you the Pyramids are still pushing ingenuity buttons with arguably the cheapest cigarettes in the world. That doesn't stop them spending a fifth of their wages on cigarettes. Kick back with a Cleopatra or Golden Way and blow smoke rings upon the ancient waters of the Nile.
  • Turkey
    No matter how much money you produce, rare will be the opportunity to smoke a Ghyubek cigarette. Considered the most fragrant of Turkish tobaccos, Turkey just cannot produce enough of these exquisite leaves for everybody.
  • The United States
    Steer clear of New York and California and you'll be bang on track. With cigarettes averaging at €3.60 a pack, you can't go wrong. Missouri comes in as top bargain with an average €3.00 a pack. But chances are you'll get three packs of natural "American Spirit" for the price of one if you pop into an Indian Reservation.