French public spaces among world's smokiest

28th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

LYON, France, Sept 27, 2006 (AFP) - Cigarette smoke in restaurants, bars and even hospitals makes France's public spaces among the unhealthiest in the world, according to new research released on Wednesday.

LYON, France, Sept 27, 2006 (AFP) - Cigarette smoke in restaurants, bars and even hospitals makes France's public spaces among the unhealthiest in the world, according to new research released on Wednesday.

In 42 percent of French public spaces, the air quality ranks as "dangerous" due to high smoke concentrations, said the study conducted by the Lyon-based International Centre for Cancer Research and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Only five countries — Syria, Romania, Lebanon, Belgium and Singapore —  performed worse, according to the 24-nation study, which looked at bars, restaurants and nightclubs, as well as train stations, airports and hospitals.

Air containing more than 250 microgrammes of fine air particles — most of which come from cigarette smoke — per cubic metre is classed as "dangerous", under standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

In France — where the government is currently considering banning smoking in all public places — tests carried out from September to November 2005 found an average concentration of 380 microgrammes per cubic metre.

Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said Wednesday that a decision would be announced by mid-October on a smoking ban, which could come into force from January 1 following a government decree.

"The question is no longer whether we need a ban, but how and when to introduce it," Bertrand told a parliamentary committee due to report next month on the feasability of a ban.

Under the government's current plans, the public smoking ban could exempt tobacconists, nightclubs and casinos and could also allow for special, non-staffed smoking rooms in bars and cafes.

The French government introduced an anti-smoking law in 1991 that obliges restaurants and other public places to have separate smoking areas. But a recent government report said the law was being "badly applied" and recommended an outright ban.

Although smoking has been successfully stamped out on most forms of public transport and in most offices under the 1991 law, smokers in bars and restaurants have puffed on unperturbed.

But Bertrand said there was a growing consensus on the need to "protect non-smokers, end the forced cohabitation of smokers and non-smokers, to protect workers and customers and also to help those who wish to stop."

If a ban goes ahead, it would follow a trail blazed by Ireland in March 2004, since then imitated by Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain and Sweden. A ban also recently came into force in Scotland, with Northern Ireland, England and Wales to follow in 2007.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article