Thursday : Doomsday

photo, ashtray full of butts To become a rare sight in France?

French To Give Up Weed

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Wednesday, 31. January:–  Do you have one of those postpartum depressions? Well, as bad as it may be it is nothing compared to what will happen in France tomorrow when we all have to stop smoking in public places.

These include in hospitals, schools, universities, research labs, government offices like tax collection, police stations, army barracks, all offices and shops, garages and other places of work as well as in prisons and retirement homes.

This measure will be followed at the beginning of 2008 with a ban affecting cafés and restaurants, including the tabacs that sell cigarettes.

On this morning's radio news one school director said, "Am I supposed to kick 500 students off the school grounds to comply with the law?" In France a school director is responsible for the kids while they are at school and normally they are confined to school grounds during the school day.

Long–time residents in care homes are also worried about losing the smoking rooms they have been accorded because they are slated for extinction. Office workers and hospital workers are also worried about the distances they will have to go in order to enjoy their filthy smoke. Employers, who have been providing smoking areas, are worried about inceased absenteeism during the work day.

Many smokers, who can receive state–supported medical aid to quit, have been besieging clinics and doctors' offices for therapy, patches, gum, hypnotism, zen and yoga cures for smoking. Television has been bombarding the hapless populace with upbeat stories of smokers who quit, and lesser stories about those who failed.

Nothing has been as bad as the anti–smoking TV commercials shown in the New York area over the jolly Christmas season. The French are being told that they can quit if they really want to.

There have been restrictions on smoking in France for some time, and the SNCF suppressed all smoking on trains last fall. Many restaurants set aside non–smoking areas but many other small restaurants found it to be impossible. Some restaurants have already banned smoking entirely.

The theory is that smoke is unhealthy for workers and therefore needs to be eliminated from the work place.

The government has announced repressive measures to go along with the partial ban. Fines are slated to be fairly high. However France has a history of lax enforcement so nobody knows exactly what will happen.

Although the new law was passed by a majority representing all parties, many voters are likely to remember that it is the current government's decision to activate the law at this time, just months before the coming presidential and legislative elections.

The one public place not included in the ban is outside. Yes, like in America we will be able to go out on the sidewalk in all weathers and puff away to our struggling hearts' content, gray-faced and dismal.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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