The United States has lost nearly $100-billion in tourist-related spending in the past six years. Quelle surprise!

Foreign travelers are staying away from the United States in droves, so says an organization set up to promote tourism. It blames the decline in foreign travel on "the shabby welcome many foreigners feel they get in the United States." Ya think?

Let’s see. After an uncomfortable and long flight from Paris, London or Amersterdam the foreign visitor’s first glimpse of the "land of the free" is a barrage of hideous No Smoking signs, accompanied by strident recordings proclaiming the airport is "smoke free.". After moving through customs and treking through the airport the smoker harrassment continues even outdoors, where many airports ban smoking 20 feet from any door. Depression sets in as the visitor realizes that exiting the country will mean several hours spent in cavernous terminals where having a smoke is completely impossible.

Finally the visitor catches a cab or other conveyance and yep, no smoking there either. Off to the hotel where the lobby is decorated with more No Smoking signs. Catching a bite to eat reveals no smoking in restaurants. Feeling the need to have a stiff drink the visitor is informed that even in a bar anti-smoking reigns supreme. The rest of the trip is spent viewing No Smoking signs plastered everywhere while trying to catch a surreptitious drag, somewhere out of sight of the self-righteous anti-smokers who cluck disapprovingly whenever they see the faint wisp of tobacco smoke.

The United States is hell on earth for smokers. Why on earth would any smoker wish to endure the torture that has now become the United States. Blaming security measures enacted after 9/11 is not the only story, as the media would have us believe. People with money to spend will not spend it in locations where they are treated like the scum of the earth.



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