Written on 10/19/2011
Smoking is everywhere in Georgia. We were informed at the orientation that it would be impossible to expect to find a smoke-free host family. Even if the family members themselves don’t smoke, they said, guests would be sure to smoke in the house. And Georgian houses always have guests coming in and out all day long. Not to mention that people smoke everywhere, hotels, restaurants, bars, internet cafes, in the car, taxi etc etc. I’ve yet to see someone smoking on a bus or marshutka, but I feel that it may just be a matter of time.
I discovered no less in my own home in my first few days after I arrived. Neighbors were always coming in and out of our house, often with a their cigarette butt hanging from their mouth.
But then, after a week of being at my house, my host father announced to me that he had been smoke free for 4 days. My host mother was very proud of him and it seemed to have given her the confidence to make her whole house smoke free.
The next day our neighbor walked into the house again with his cigarette in his mouth and she gave him a lecture about how she didn’t want people smoking in her house. At first he looked at her like she was crazy, perhaps it was the first time someone had ever asked him to step out to have his cigarette. But she persisted, dropping my name in there, perhaps saying that I didn’t want to be sucking in his second hand smoke. She turned to me and said something in Georgian that I understood to mean “Isn’t that right?” and of course I responded “Kho!” (yes in Georgian). He just looked at us, shook his head and stepped out until he had finished his cigarette. But from then on, whenever he came over with his cigarette, all my host mother had to say was no smoking and he now steps out of the house without complaint. It’s good to see that people are becoming aware of the smoking culture and that they have the power to make changes for the better.