Wednesday, 11 October 2006

At Last!

Ireland did it, Scotland did it too, the UK are about to do and Italy have done it... Now it is France's turn to ban smoking in public places. At last! The last time I was there, I almost died in a club: Everybody seemed to be chain smoking.
This week, after a five-month governmental inquiry, a parliamentary committee approved a proposal to ban smoking in public areas.

Under the measure, cafes, hotels, restaurants, discos and casinos could designate spaces for smoking only if they could be “hermetically sealed areas, furnished with air-extraction systems and subject to extremely rigorous health norms.”

[...]

France was also in the forefront in the anti-smoking movement in Europe, passing the toughest legislation on the Continent in 1991. Smoking was banned in most public places, including restaurants, except in designated areas. Tobacco products were required to carry health warnings. Cigarette advertising was banned in 1993. But there were loopholes, and application of the law has been uneven. The new measure is even stronger by making it difficult — and expensive — to create separate smoking areas.

President Jacques Chirac, who at one time smoked up to three packs a day, declared a “war on tobacco” in 2003 and imposed steep tax increases on cigarettes. Today, nearly 80 percent of the French support the idea of a smoking ban in public places.

Still, about 12 million of the French — about 20 percent of the population — are smokers, according to official government figures, and more than 70,000 people die in France every year from smoking-related illnesses and secondhand smoke.
It is interesting that the same arguments against the ban are being used in France as the one used in this country: infringment of the smokers' civil liberties and economic repercutions for businesses. No mention of the non-smokers' civil liberties which have been trampled for centuries. As for economic repercutions, I don't think there is any credible reports of any such things where the ban has taken place.

Bring it on!


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