New anti-smoking laws have come into effect in France and much of Germany, but in many places there has been a grace period for New Year celebrations. In Berlin the so-called tolerance policy is the most generous: a ban on cigarettes in bars and restaurants will not be actively enforced for the first six months. A waiter in Berlin said: “One has to do it at some point. But, first of all, we have to tell people about the ban. It all does not make sense, but one has to be careful.”
France will start policing its ban on smoking in cafés, bars and restaurants with heavy fines from Wednesday. One man smoking in a Paris café said: “Today I am making the most of it. I spend quite a bit of time in cafés, but sadly from tomorrow I will spend less time in such a place. I won’t have breakfast here anymore.”
Portugal has also today introduced no smoking laws, but they are not as strict as elsewhere in Europe. In France and Germany people can only smoke inside if there are sealed smoking chambers. A nightclub worker in Paris said: “It is true that for us workers, it will be better. It will be better not having cigarette smoke when we are working.”Many however are finding it hard to accept that France will no longer be a bastion of smokers. One man said: “I am going to try to smoke anyway. The law is the law, but, as they say, not seen, not caught.”
In Germany, 11 out of 16 states are introducing the new anti-smoking laws; others are expected to follow suit later this year.