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Yesterday, France’s new smoking ban took affect, prohibiting smoking in all public places in the historically smoke-friendly country.
Recognizing that the public might not be immediately inclined to follow the rules, the government has added some muscular penalties—anyone caught smoking in a public space will be fined €68. Failure to pay this fine within 45 days will raise the fine to €180. The law makes a one year exception for restaurants and nightclubs.
Ireland was the first country in Europe to introduce strict anti-smoking laws, passing a measure in 2004. Sweden, Italy, Malta, Belgium, Norway, and Spain have all followed suit. For a look at European smoking laws in comparison, see this BBC overview.
According to a European Union public health statement reported in today’s Libération, 80% of Europeans surveyed are in favor of banning smoking in all public places. Regarding smoking in bars and cafes, however, attitudes in France at least are less clear-cut. Among French smokers, a majority (55%) are in favor of banning smoking in restaurants, while an even larger majority (63%) are opposed to prohibiting smoking in bars.
During our last trip to Paris in December, our friends expressed disbelief that the law would be effective. Wouldn’t the French simply smoke in spite of the ban? This conversation, it should be noted, occurred over a Gauloises, outside a restaurant.
“Apparently,” our friend added, “this restaurant has already imposed the ban.”