I'm interested, how do people feel about these two phenomena?
Dogs don't bother me at all, so long as they behave. In fact I find it hard to imagine what rationale the boards of health of pretty much every city in America use to prohibit dogs in dining rooms (even though they allow guide dogs, which, needless to say, are dogs). In a nation where 39 percent of households have at least one dog (according to APPMA), this prohibition seems puzzling (I don't know what percentage of French households have dogs). I suppose some people are allergic to pets, but I've never heard that offered as the reason for a ban.
We discussed smoking here before, but it was when the site had only a few dozen members and I doubt many of the current members have seen the thread. It was also never discussed within the larger context I'm trying to present here. So I'm bringing it up again.
Smoking bothers me a lot. I firmly believe people have the right to smoke, and I indulge in the occasional cigar, but I find that being in a restaurant near people who are smoking significantly diminishes my enjoyment of a meal. It seems to me that from a gastronomic/oenological perspective it's abundantly clear that smoke inhibits our ability to taste and smell -- and therefore appreciate -- fine food and wine.
At the same time, I can't help thinking that there is some conclusion to be drawn about French tolerance and lack of neo-puritanical inhibition from the dual issues of smoking and dogs. If there's one thing I hate more than smoke being blown in my face during a three-star meal, it's joyless hysterical American smoke-haters. I admire very much the French zest for life and prioritization of pleasure, even if it is accompanied by an addiction to bureaucracy and inefficiency.
Approximately 28 percent of Americans smoke, by the way, according to the Surgeon General. Again I don't know the number in France.