Paris launches 'smoke-free' label for cafes, restaurants

26th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 26 (AFP) - The reputation of Paris's cafes as charming but smoky establishments where customers light up cigarettes with a laissez faire disregard for others could come in for a change under a new initiative launched Tuesday by the city.

PARIS, Oct 26 (AFP) - The reputation of Paris's cafes as charming but smoky establishments where customers light up cigarettes with a laissez faire disregard for others could come in for a change under a new initiative launched Tuesday by the city.

The municipality, in tandem with France's main hospitality union, announced cafes, restaurants and hotels may from mid-November be issued with a label declaring "This is a 100 percent smoke-free place".

"This operation is entirely on a voluntary basis," a health official at Paris City Hall, Alain Lhostis, told a media conference.

But those establishments which decide to ban cigarettes would be offering "a new space of freedom for Parisians," he said.

According to the SYNHORCAT union covering hotel, restaurant and cafe owners, only around 50 of the 12,000 such businesses operating in the city are already nicotine free, and just 20 others have expressed interest in signing on to the initiative.

An initial response was expected from businesses in heavily touristy parts of the city, especially those with high numbers of US and Japanese visitors, officials said.

Those that do make the request will be issued the label on a renewable yearly basis, subject to municipal health inspections to make sure it is being respected.

The city-wide initiative goes further than an existing - though much ignored - law which requires non-smoking areas in such places.

Some owners of eateries and bars have said they will not apply for the smoke-free label, fearing it would scare off many customers and hit their bottom line.

"Smokers represent 90 percent of my clientele. It's unthinkable that I adopt such a thing," Philippe Sallebery, the owner of a brasserie in the centre of the city told Le Parisien newspaper.

Others, though, saw the value in it, if not for health reasons, than for a greater appreciation of the food they serve without the distasteful odour of tobacco.

"I lost a few clients, but I gained others and it's balanced itself out," Daniel Boulanger, the owner of a restaurant in southern Paris told AFP. Even the smokers "appreciate entering a non-smoking place where food has recovered its taste."

The inspiration for Paris's idea comes from other cities that have taken a hard-line stance against smoking, most notably New York, where a ban in bars and other venues was implemented in 2001.

In March this year, Ireland introduced one of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the world by banning cigarettes in almost all public places.

Nationally, France has hiked prices of cigarette packets to among Europe's highest in a bid to cut down the health risks associated with the addiction.

An estimated one-third of the country's 60-million-strong population are smokers, and Lhostis said 3,000 non-smokers are killed each year by inhaling the toxic clouds of others.

The World Health Organisation estimates that, globally, nearly five million people a year die from smoking and the number of deaths is set to grow to about 10 million per year by 2030 if consumption is unchecked.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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