Eleven months after smoking was outlawed in workplaces, schools, hospitals and shops, the ban is extending to bars and bistrots, with some owners predicting the demise of France's lively cafe culture. While the ban kicks in on January 1, police say they are in no hurry to hand out fines to smokers hours after they ring in the New Year, suggesting that the ban will be gradually enforced. Supporters of the anti-tobacco drive point to France's smooth transition to smoke-free workplaces in February as a sign that the country has become more health-conscious. But some business groups representing cafe and restaurant owners are up in arms, demanding that restrictions be eased, especially in the countryside where banning smoking at the local "bar-tabac" is tantamount to an attack on the French lifestyle, AP reports. Under the French ban, smokers who light up in a public place can be fined up to 450 euros (645 dollars) while business owners may face penalties of up to 750 euros. Tobacco is the leading cause of avoidable death in France, with more than 5,000 deaths per year from second-hand smoke and an additional 66,000 from smoking directly, according to the health ministry, which wouldn’t mention the alcohol effects. France has a current population of 13.5 million smokers (and counting...).
(Source: Associated Press)