OPINION

Meeting the devil in his most tempting outfit on Naxos

Crossing the square in the port of wonderful Naxos, I’m approached, near the cigarette kiosk, by a beautiful, charming young woman. «Excuse me, do you smoke?» Curious that such a nice girl is begging, I answer, «No, but why do you ask me that?» «Never mind,» she replies. «Only, if you were a smoker, I would have a present for you.» I’m getting it. Having smoked for 40 years and now lung sick, I say to her, «You mean your present is lung cancer?» Next day. The same beautiful charming young woman – at the same place, same dress and smile – is now surrounded by teenage girls and their mothers, enthusiastically asking for presents, some cigarette lighters, I believe. She does not remember me and repeats her question from yesterday. «Are you aware of what you are doing?» I ask. «It is probably criminal.» Her answer is immediate: «Oh no! You see, we are not selling anything, only distributing presents to people. Then they buy cigarettes from the kiosk.» «Who is ‘we’?» I ask. «My company.» «Does your company have a name?» «Sure: Karelia…» «Do you know about EU regulations and moral policy concerning [distributing] tobacco to youths?» She is getting uncomfortable. «I think you should talk to my boss,» the poor girl says. «He will be here in an hour.» With a sudden feeling of being in some developing Third World corner far from Europe, I doubt that a discussion in the burning heath would change anything and leave the square, knowing that I just have met the devil in his most tempting outfit.
PROF MICHAEL MESCHKE, Sweden