in North America the poor & less educated smoke

There’s hope for the world.

The national smoking rate (USA) has fallen to historic lows, with just 15 percent of adults still smoking. …

America’s new tobacco crisis: The rich stopped smoking, the poor didn’t

Smokers are mostly embarrassed that they can’t quit in North America.

Not so in Europe. There the cool kids still smoke. Proud of it.

Why can’t Europeans quit smoking?

I don’t get it.

Europe so smoking

Romanians ask me — as a tourist — how I like Romania.

Too much smoking, is my reply.

Eduard Benko. Romania, 2009

Romania did not ban smoking in bars, cafes and restaurants until 2016. A backwards nation.

In fact, here are a few nations with even higher rates of smoking: Montenegro, Belarus, Macedonia, Slovenia, Belgium, Luxembourg.

Europeans are the world’s biggest smokers and drinkers. I couldn’t live in Europe. Aside from second hand smoke, many addicts give me the impression that their main reason to live is to get to the next cigarette. In about 4 minutes. 😦

Africans smoke the least, overall, by the way. It’s a pleasure to travel there.


Live Long And Prosper

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a type of obstructive lung disease characterized by long term poor airflow. The main symptoms include shortness of breath and cough with sputum production. …

Tobacco smoking is the most common cause of COPD, with a number of other factors such as air pollution and genetics playing a smaller role. …

Leonard Nimoy died of complications from COPD on February 27, 2015, at the age of 83. He’d quit smoking 30 years earlier, but still suffered from the self-inflicted wound of cigarette addiction.

Near the end he wished his story might help reduce the number of COPD cases each year. It’s the third leading cause of death in the United States.

More than 3 million people died of COPD in 2012, which is equal to 6% of all deaths globally that year.



indiegogo – COPD: Highly Illogical-A Tribute to Leonard Nimoy

via Rob Sawyer

why I don’t like Chile

Chile is 2600 miles long and never more than 110 miles wide. From the main north/south highway it’s easy access to fantastic wilderness.

how could Rick not LOVE Chile
how could Rick not LOVE Chile?

Chile should be a tourist destination as good as New Zealand.

But it’s not. 😦

I’ve spent about 2 months total in Chile traveling most of the 2600 miles. Costs are similar to Canada … but quality of goods and services are poor by comparison.

If you find something of qualityCasa Azul hostel, for example – chances are it’s run by a foreigner. Probably German.

Most of the expats I met in Chile were frustrated by Chilean society.

People on the trail are good. But I’m not much impressed with the interactions I have with Chileans in the towns and cities.

A currency exchange guy tried to give me only half my money one time. (I’ve seen scummy practice like this in Italy recently, too.)

smokerThe World Health Organisation (2013) says over 40% of Chileans smoke, compared with 27% of Argentines and 17% of people in Brazil, where curbs on smoking began in the late 1990s. Chile’s health minister, Jaime Mañalich, says that treating tobacco victims takes a quarter of the $10 billion public health-care budget.

Chile’s smokers are getting younger. According to the Tobacco Atlas, a study of the industry, nearly 40% of girls aged 13-15 in Santiago, Chile’s capital, smoke cigarettes. That is up from just 20% in 2003, and is the highest rate in the world. …

The population looks unhealthy. Walking the streets reminds me of walking in Mexico. A very high percentage of people are conspicuously overweight. This is new to these nations.

Chile ranks 23 on a 2007 list of fattest countries with a percentage of 65.3% of its citizens with an unhealthy weight …

The diet is poor, I think. They still love hotdogs in Chile.

It’s a land that still (mostly) drinks instant coffee.

Internet access is slow Or non-existant. This is a land without enough competition between corporations.

The best reasons to visit Chile are outdoors adventure. And wine.

Otherwise, there are plenty of better destinations for the foreign tourist. I like southern Spain much better, for example.

I liked Chile better my 2004 visit

related – Travels in a Thin Country: A Journey Through Chile (1999) by Sara Wheeler

smoking around the world

I hate smoking. Yet worldwide smoking rates are not declining. Richer, more educated nations are in decline. But in poor nations (like Nigeria) rates are on the rise.

Click PLAY or watch a short Economist report on YouTube.

The Economist explains – Why smoking rates aren’t falling around the world



my Yemini wedding

Unexpectedly — between sessions at my week long Gymnastics Coaching Camp in Yemen — I was invited to a wedding.

We walked over to an unassuming building. Inside were at least two floors filled with hundreds of feasting guests.

wedding food

Yemeni feast

Tradition is to eat as quickly as possible, with only the right hand.


From there we walked over to a massive wedding hall.

wedding hall

Guests arriving on time — hours early as everything starts LATE here — relaxed, chatted and chewed Khat.


Disgusting Khat:

Khat consumption induces mild euphoria and excitement, similar to that conferred by strong coffee. Individuals become very talkative under the influence of the plant. … Khat can induce manic behaviors and hyperactivity

Khat is so popular in Yemen that its cultivation consumes much of the country’s agricultural resources. It is estimated that 40% of the country’s water supply goes towards irrigating it …

An estimated 10 million people globally use khat on a daily basis …


Not healthy.

It darkens teeth, but doesn’t destroy them like betel. Yemenis have bad teeth, but it’s a consequence of not going to dentists.

Yemini men

Yemini boy

more photos

… Oh yes. You might have noticed that there is not one woman or girl anywhere to be seen. Yet there must be at least one woman secreted away somewhere.