France and Germany: Ashtrays removed from cafes and restaurants today
Throughout France today, 2008 was ushered in with a countrywide smoking ban in restaurants, cafes, and discos that smokers have been anticipating for months. In early 2007, a similar law banned smoking in public spaces and work places, but this is the biggie — no more smoking at the table, over an espresso, or on the dance floor.
Although the law was to go into effect at midnight December 31, officials decided not to enforce the law until Wednesday, as the removal of ashtrays at midnight on New Years Eve could disrupt the party. We can respect that.
Meanwhile, in Germany, eight states, including Berlin, also have non-smoking laws going into effect, banning smoking in public places. The measure, however, seems more flexible – as fines won’t be imposed for the time being (until the public “gets used to the law”) and restaurants are still able to have separate smoking rooms.