France to ban smoking in public areas: report

23rd August 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 23, 2006 (AFP) - France is preparing to ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other public areas starting next year, the newspaper Le Figaro reported Wednesday.

PARIS, Aug 23, 2006 (AFP) - France is preparing to ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other public areas starting next year, the newspaper Le Figaro reported Wednesday.

The measure, which could be applied nationally from January 1, 2007, would bring France into step with Britain, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

Those EU countries have all imposed or are preparing to impose prohibitions on smoking in enclosed public spaces.

"That's going to happen" for France, too, the country's health minister, Xavier Bertrand, told Le Figaro.

The newspaper said the government was planning a decree announcing the new law, but would make exceptions for bars that sell cigarettes, casinos and nightclubs.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's office stressed, though, that "nothing is yet definitively decided," the daily reported.

But it said "the timetable is known," pointing to a parliamentary report on the issue due to be submitted next month.

"The government will announce its plan in the following month (October). The decree's application could take effect from January 1, 2007," the newspaper said.

The UMIH association representing the hospitality industry reacted to the report by saying it wanted any smoking ban to be introduced "in a realistic way" and asked that "restaurants which have invested in non-smoking areas to be free to offer their clients a choice."

News of the possible smoking ban came after a study published Saturday by Britain's scientific review the Lancet which said that smoking triples the risk of heart attacks and all sorts of smoking -- including passive smoking -- was bad for the heart.

France has long shed its stereotypical image of a country overrun with smokey bars and cafes, though tobacco addiction is still a big problem despite successive government price rises that have made packets of cigarettes among the most expensive in Europe.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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