[u]Cigarette lovers fume over smoking ban[/u]
From next week, one of France’s most iconic institutions - the smoky cafe - will be but a hazy memory.
The extension of France’s smoking ban to bars, discotheques, restaurants, hotels, casinos and cafes Tuesday marks a momentous cultural shift in a country where thinkers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir once held court while clutching cigarettes in Left Bank cafes.
For smokers, this is the most distressing part of a phased smoking ban that began last February in workplaces, schools, airports, hospitals and other “closed and covered” public places like train stations.
But many bartenders and restaurant staffers are looking forward to breathing easier and to clothes that don’t stink of seeped-in odors from the clouds of smoke where they work.
“The French culture associated with smoking is a 20th-century thing, but we won’t forget the experience,” ex-smoker Lisa Zane, a Chicago-born singer who lives in Paris, said at Le Fumoir (The Smoking Den) restaurant and bar behind the Louvre.
The Health Ministry says one in two regular smokers here dies of smoking-related illness, and about 5,000 nonsmokers die each year of passive smoking. About a quarter of France’s 60 million people are smokers.
A national union of disco owners has said it expects a 5- to 8-percent decline in business initially, and has urged the government to send pamphlets to police to show “understanding” in their enforcement of the ban.
Some 10,000 protesters, mainly tobacco vendors, marched across Paris last month in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade lawmakers to add flexibility to the new prohibitions.
For those who continue to smoke, the bitterness will take time to fade over what they see as an infringement of their freedoms.
“Great idea,” smoker Daniel Marierouyer, 45, said sarcastically at Le Fumoir. “I love it when things get imposed on us - Buckle your seat beat, don’t smoke, you need to be healthy, you’re too fat.”[quote]—I need a smoke…[/quote]