- Title: FRANCE: France bans smoking in bars and restaurants
- Date: 2nd January 2008
- Summary: VARIOUS COFFEE CUP AND CIGARETTE
- Embargoed: 17th January 2008 12:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: Health,Lifestyle
- Reuters ID: LVA8G743FDGEPWYM339L9J482AWV
- Story Text: France has imposed a smoking ban in Cafes, bars and restaurants.
For years, anyone needing a nicotine fix in a French cafe didn't even have to light up -- the air was already so full of smoke that they only had to open their mouth and inhale.
But that all changed on Tuesday (January 2) when strict new bans take effect in one of Europe's final bastion for smokers, France.
There was long and fierce resistance to the prohibitions on tobacco that other countries imposed. This infringement of the right to smoke was sometimes viewed as an attack on freedom:
"I think this is very brutal and violent despite me having been a non smoker for years now. Furthermore in a tobacconist I think it's the cherry on the cake. Cafes and tobacconists are not compulsory, people choose to enter. It would be easy to announce the place as smoking or non smoking.
Everyone is free to choose but here there is a totalitarian side to it which I find a bit disturbing." said Christian Paumelle, a non smoker who lives in the area of Montmartre in Paris.
Others like Yann Baehrel welcome the ban.
"I think it's a good law as a non smoker," said Baehrel.
"I think smokers will get used to the smoking ban in bars as they once did on planes and in cinemas. When I enter a cafe at eight in the morning I'm happy that the place doesn't smell of smoke." continued Baehrel.
In France, smoking in shops, offices and other public places has been banned since Feb. 1 2007, but a special exemption for bars and cafes had been in place until Jan. 1 2008.
Smoke-filled bars loved by moody left bank existentialists may be long gone but the ban will mean a huge readjustment in the way people think of cafes.
Millions of French relish their morning "cafe clope" (coffee and cigarette) taken standing at a bar on the way to work and the thought of having to change has been unsettling for many.
But for Jean-Pierre, waiter at Le Nazir cafe, customers are already adapting to the ban:
"I haven't noticed any difference yet apart from more customers taking away coffees but it's all going well, everyone is going along with it." said Jean-Pierre.
With some 15 million smokers in France, there has been plenty of outrage at the new law that foresees fines of 68 euros on smokers and up to 750 euros for cafe managers.
"We have no choice but to smoke outside. I personally think it's unacceptable because it brings a lot of money to the state and it destroys small businesses." said another customer, Guy Esteves, as he stood in the Paris cold for his precious smoke.
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