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France bans smoking in covered café terraces

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A diner enjoys a cigarette with his coffee in a open terrace outside a café in Paris. A French court has banned smoking in entirely closed off terraces. Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP
16:29 CEST+02:00
Bars and cafes in France have long been accused of flouting the smoking ban by allowing smokers to light up on terraces that were almost entirely covered. However a court in France has ruled that the habit must be stubbed out.

The cour de cassation, France’s court of final appeal, has outlawed smoking in closed-off terraces, after a case brought by the anti-smoking lobby group ‘Droit des non-fumeurs’ (DNR, Non-smokers’ rights), against five Parisian bars.

“The [open] terrace of an establishment that welcomes the public is not a closed and covered space where the total ban on smoking applies," said the court on Friday.

However that was the case "as long as only three sides [of the terrace] are closed off, and it doesn’t have a ceiling or awning, or if it does have a ceiling or awning, the front [of the terrace] is completely open,” the ruling added.

A statement from DNR said the group was “rejoicing” at what it saw as the closing of “a loophole in the smoking ban.”

Since the ban on smoking in enclosed public places came into effect in 2008 bar-owners and restaurateurs in France had begun constructing outdoor terraces, often enclosed by canvas or even glass screens, to allow clients to smoke at a table, sheltered from the elements.

However not everyone was happy with the ruing.

One of those previously happy customers reacted angrily to the court's judgement, labeling it “scandalous.”

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Antoine, who frequents the Indiana Café in the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris – one of the bars targeted by DNR’s lawsuit – explained his disgust to France’s BFMTV.

“Customers have the whole of the inside of the restaurant as a non-smoking area in the winter. If I can’t smoke outside, I definitely won’t come here as often,” he added.

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