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France Institutes Smoking Ban in Restaurants


The French government has begun enforcing the country's new smoking ban in bars, restaurants and other public places. The ban has left some French delighted and others grumbling. Lisa Bryant reports from Paris the ban is part of a greater European crackdown on smoking in public places.

This corner bar in northern Paris is normally packed at midday with people drinking a quick cup of coffee or a beer before heading to lunch. But it is almost empty this Wednesday, the day that France's smoking ban is first being enforced.

Asked what he thought business would be like, the bartender shrugs. He says times will be difficult, and the law will be terrible for bar and restaurant owners. Before the ban, he says, nobody complained about the smoke at the bar.

Under the new law, those caught smoking in bars, restaurants and cafes will be fined the equivalent of $93, while cafes that look the other way face a nearly $200 penalty.

Europe as a whole is cracking down on smoking, with similar bans already in place in Britain and Ireland. New anti-smoking laws also took effect in eight German states on January 1.

But many French smokers are outraged by the ban, and some fear that the country's famed smoke-filled cafes may become endangered. Even some non-smokers, like Carlos Fredo, a regular at the northern Paris bar, is staunchly opposed to the ban.

Fredo says he has never had a problem with smoke in the bar because there was a non-smoking area, which is also relatively new for France. He does not believe the legislation will cut down on the country's smoking habits.

But Anna Atlan, watching her children ride a merry-go-round a few blocks from the bar, disagrees.

Atlan says she has rarely gone to cafes because there was simply too much smoke. With the new law, she believes the French will smoke less. And if they smoke, at least they will be outside when they light up.

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