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Home News Hookah-pipe bar sues French state over smoking ban

Hookah-pipe bar sues French state over smoking ban

Published on January 04, 2008

   METZ, France, January 3, 2008  - A hookah-pipe bar owner in eastern Franceis suing the state for damages, claiming the country's new smoking ban has put it out of business, its lawyer said Thursday.   The "Sphinx", set up three years ago in the eastern city of Metz, closeddown on January 1 when a nationwide ban on smoking came into effect in tens of thousands of cafes, restaurants and nightclubs.   It is demanding 60,000 euros (90,000 dollars) in damages, under a Frenchlaw allowing compensation for individuals who suffer a prejudice as a resultof policies designed for the public interest.   "My client, whose entire establishment was a smoking room, was forced toclose down to respect a decree taken in the name of public health," said itslawyer, Xavier Iochum.   Like many of France's estimated 800 hookah-pipe bars, the "Sphinx" offeredOriental-style water pipes and tea, but no alcohol -- with tobacco salesproviding its core source of income.   Owner Bayoumi El Sayad, a construction worker of Egyptian origin, claims tohave sunk his life savings into the bar. Local authorities have two months torespond to his request.   Iochum claims there is legal precedent for compensation, that could applyto all water-pipe bars that opened before the anti-smoking decree was passedin 2006.   Under France's anti-tobacco legislation, smokers who light up in cafes facefines of between 68 euros (100 dollars) and 450 euros while business ownerscan incur penalties of up to 750 euros for violations.AFP