If you ask anyone from California (and most parts of the U.S.) their opinion on cigarettes, most will tell you that they are bad, pointless and if you smoke them you will die of cancer. And yes they are bad, I’m not defending them. But before moving to France my opinion on them was the same as most of my fellow Californians, they they were horrible and I had no idea why people smoked them. It literally made no sense to me. When I first got here, I noticed people smoking right and left. I couldn’t escape the smoke. I literally thought I might die. Unfortunately (for my lungs) and fortunately (for my social self), I got used to the smoke. I even tried it! Now I wouldn’t say I liked it but I had to know what all the hype was about. Here’s what I learned.
Smoking is a social thing. You know in the U.S. when someone offers you a drink in a bar? Getting offered a cigarette is the same. Now, this is not to say guys don’t offer to buy you drinks in bars, that happens too (not much to me yet unfortunately) but if they want to smoke they’ll also throw in a cigarette, hoping you’ll accept and go outside to smoke with them. This will also happen with friends that smoke. If they want to smoke, they usually don’t want to ditch you and go smoke by themselves, so a lot of times they’ll offer you one. For many, cigarettes are mostly a social thing. They’ll smoke during soirees (nights out) but not much else. Not many of my friends smoke which is cool. Since it is done socially, smokers usually stick with smokers and vice versa. For others, it is a thing to cope with stress and feelings. That’s usually when it starts getting worse. For example, right outside of my school is the “smoking area”. You can’t leave school without walking through a cloud of smoke. Also, at my school we have breaks every hour, which is when much of the smoking is done so if you happen to sit next to the wrong person in class, you’re stuck sitting next to a smelly person for the next hour.
You get used to it pretty quick because it’s in the culture to smoke cigarettes. But it’s definitely, not my favorite part of the culture.
P.S. If you ask a French person about weed they will talk about it as Californian’s talk about cigarettes. It’s much more socially unaccepted in France.