Pin-ball to rescue French bars after smoking ban

16th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 16, 2006 (AFP) - Pin-ball, table-football and billiards are to come to the rescue of French bars and cafes hit by an imminent smoking ban, under a tax reform announced Monday by the government.

PARIS, Oct 16, 2006 (AFP) - Pin-ball, table-football and billiards are to come to the rescue of French bars and cafes hit by an imminent smoking ban, under a tax reform announced Monday by the government.

From next year a flat annual payment to the treasury of EUR 5 will replace a variable municipal levy that could be nearly 80 times that and which has led to the steady disappearance of traditional games from bars and cafes.

"Bars are going to have to diversify their activities," said Budget Minister Jean-François Copé, explaining the measure on RMC radio.

From January 2008 all French bars, cafes and restaurants will be non-smoking unless they can provide a hermetically-sealed 'fumoir' — or smoking area — which unions say only about three percent can afford.

According to Le Parisien newspaper, some 140,000 pin-ball and other machines went out of circulation between 1999 and 2004 as a result of the municipal levy — which can be as high as EUR 368 a year for a billiard table in Paris.

"We have been waiting for this for years," said Jose Hody of the French Confederation of Automatic Games Suppliers.

In the 1980s some 4,000 companies employed 10,000 staff to install and maintain machines in bars and cafes, but the number of businesses has fallen to 800, the newspaper said. In addition some 40,000 pin-ball, table-football and other games are currently languishing in storage.

Cafe and bar owners are fearful of a dramatic loss of business once the smoking ban comes into force, even though between 70 and 80 percent of the public say they support it.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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