Happy non-smoking Year!

Stoeker/Bergami — Untitled

About 3 million people die every year in the world because they smoke. In France, tobacco kills about 60,000 people each year, of which about 10 percent are non-smokers who died from passive smoking.

Sixteen years ago, French Minister of Health Claude Évin enacted a law forbidding people to smoke in the metro and trains, and requiring no-smoking areas in restaurants and cafés.

It was commonly ignored by owners of restaurants and cafés though, essentially because separating smoking from non-smoking areas was difficult in small premises.

Starting in February 2007, and after several European countries, another French law barred smoking in public places such as government offices, schools, hospitals, and the like. Simultaneously, Dominique de Villepin, the French Prime Minister at the time, decided the State would take charge of one-third of the costs of anti-smoking treatments, such as patches. “That would represent the first month of treatment” he said. And probably  it will save a lot of money in the future, since it will lower costs related to tobacco-induced cancers and cardiovascular diseases. 

No Smoking! However, so-called areas of social interaction — cafés, restaurants and nightclubs — had received a reprieve until January 2, 2008. Here we are. It will be interesting to see if the French obey the regulation as well as the Italians did when they banned smoking themselves, three years ago.

Although there has been quite a lot of lobbying in the media lately against the (sic) “liberticidal law”, I think we should be optimistic. The first part of the ban was easily accepted by the French in 2007. Despite they are usually depicted as intrinsically reluctant to comply with the rules, polls regularly showed that most French people supported the ban by an average 80 percent (about 60 percent among smokers). Hopefully, it will be the same in next weeks and months, and we can have a dinner in any restaurant without the smell of tobacco... at last.

So... Happy non-smoking New Year, everyone!

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