Smoking will be banned in most public places in France from next February. Bars, restaurants, hotels and night-clubs have a year’s grace until January 2008. It leaves smokers out in the cold or at home if they want to light up. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin gave the green light: “ 60,000 people die in France every year from smoking, 5,000 from passive smoking. That equates to around 13 deaths a day. It is unacceptable for our country.”
Villepin would not comment on the impact that the ban would have on tax revenues, saying public health was more important. Tobacconists are already up in arms. One commented that just banning smoking in public is illogical and half-hearted. He said the government may as well go the whole way and ban the sale of cigarettes as well.
A quarter of the country’s adult population smokes. Despite that, polls regularly show the majority of French people support a total ban. Those who do choose to give up the habit have an incentive. The government has said it will pay for a third of all anti-smoking treatments. France follows in the steps of a number of other European countries. Smoking is already banned in Ireland, Norway, Italy, Sweden and Scotland.