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Now even France bans public smoking

The country that have us Gaulois and Gitanes is to ban smoking in public places from January 2008.

This change of policy in France is an object lesson in just how much social attitudes can change. Just five years ago, the non-fumeurs section in most restaurants in France was a single table next to — or frequently virtually inside — the toilets.

Today, opinion polls show that the French support this. Even smokers. Perhaps this is because the French like food even more than they like fags and have discovered that their senses of taste and smell are so much more effective in a smoke-free restaurant.

As well as using the stick — fines of 75 Euros for individuals smoking and 150 Euros for the establishment in which they do it - the French government proposes a carrot. It will meet some of the costs of products designed to stop smoking such as patches.

Recent research from the Lyon-based International Centre for Cancer Research found that France's public spaces were among the unhealthiest in the world as a direct result of cigarette smoke.

In 42% of French public spaces from cafes to hospitals, stations to airports, the air quality was rated as 'dangerous'. Only five countries — Syria, Romania, Lebanon, Belgium and Singapore — performed worse in the 24-nation study.

Air containing more than 250 microgrammes of fine air particles — most of which come from cigarette smoke — per cubic metre is classed as 'dangerous', under standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. In France, tests carried out from September to November 2005 found an average concentration of 380 microgrammes per cubic metre.

Of course, it is one thing to pass a law, another to enforce it.

Smoking bans already exist in Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain and Sweden. A ban also recently came into force in Scotland, with Northern Ireland, England and Wales to follow in 2007.

Page created on October 9th, 2006

Page updated on December 1st, 2009