In France and a large part of Germany, tonight is the last chance to have a puff in a restaurant or bar. These two countries, up until now described as Western Europe’s last bastions for smokers, bring in strict anti-tobacco laws at midnight. “We will do like all the rest,” said one French smoker. “We will stop smoking.” Another man said: “It is a shame they don’t keep smoking areas. Or they should just stop selling cigarettes.” In France, a ban on smoking in shops, offices and other public places came into force in February, but bars and restaurants were given until tonight to get used to the idea.
In Germany, 11 out of 16 states bring in similar bans at midnight, and the others are expected to follow suit in 2008.
One restaurant owner in Berlin said: “In the south of Italy, where I come from, the temperature is not as cold as here, so people can cope with it. But here, with minus five or six, I am not sure they will be willing to go outside to smoke.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, it is reported that almost 70 percent of cafes and restaurants are also expected to ban smoking from January 1, in anticipation of an official ban that comes into force from July.