Paris gets tough on café terrace smokers

As Parisians continue to ignore laws that ban smoking inside closed off cafe terraces, the Town Hall has sent a reminder to police that they shouldn't hesitate to crack down on both the smokers and the cafe owners not abiding by the rules.

Paris gets tough on café terrace smokers
Bernard Jomier, the Paris Town Hall councillor in charge of health matters wrote a letter to the police this week urging them to take action against those flouting the law by lighting up on closed terraces, Le Parisien newspaper reports.
"It's become normal to disrespect the law," Jomier, from France's Green EELV party wrote.
"It is crucial that we manage to enforce the law before next winter. Passive smoking is behind about 10 percent of the 70,000 deaths due to smoking each year," he added.
Jomier urged officers to take stronger action in enforcing the law, which has seen smoking banned in enclosed places since 2008. 
Five years later in 2013, a Paris court ruled that smoking in close-off terraces was also illegal, after the anti-smoking lobby group ‘Droit des non-fumeurs’ (DNR, Non-smokers’ rights) brought up a case against five Parisian bars.
The court deemed a terrace can still be classified as 'open' as long as no more than three sides were closed off. 
The law states that cafe owners who allow their customers to smoke in closed-off terraces should face a fine of €135, or up to €750 if smoking is encouraged by providing ash-trays. Smokers are liable for a €68 fine, but in practice this is rarely enforced. 
There are about 45,000 closed terraces registered in France and constant attention from police forces is required if the law is to be respected in all of them. 
Emmanuelle Beguinot, director of the National Committee Against Smoking (CNCT), supports the push.
"We really welcome this initiative and it is only fair that when the law is not respected there should be sanctions," she told The Local on Wednesday.
"The law is meant to protect customers and people who work in these establishments, and it is also a matter of equity for other businesses who respect the law."
"Moreover, people support these laws and initiatives which aim to ban smoking."
Claude Evin, the former minister who was behind France's first major anti-smoking laws back in 1991 that, told Le Parisien newspaper that the police are no doubt too busy to be handing out fines to people smoking in closed-off terraces. He added that officers issued "several dozen" fines a year. 
Smoking was banned in "enclosed public spaces" in 2008, and since then bar-owners and restaurateurs in France begun constructing outdoor terraces, often enclosed by canvas or even glass screens in a bid to allow clients to smoke at their table while being sheltered from the elements.
A healthcare bill is currently going through the French parliament that would see smoking banned in cars where children are present and electronic cigarettes also banned in certain public spaces where youngsters are.
by Chloe Farand

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‘One million French people’ give up smoking in just 12 months

One million French smokers who previously sparked up everyday have given up smoking in the last 12 months, the country's Ministry of Health revealed on Monday, suggesting France's reputation as Europe's chimney might no longer be appropriate.

'One million French people' give up smoking in just 12 months
Photo: AFP
The government is claiming it as a win for their policy of escalating the price of cigarettes in increments to €10 by 2020 which they say is acting as a “deterrent” for many smokers. 
In 2017, 26.9 percent of 18- to 75-year-olds smoked every day, compared to 29.4 percent a year earlier. 
One of the key trends is the decline “among the most disadvantaged smokers” for “the first time since 2000,” the ministry said in a statement.
“These results are encouraging, they mark a break [with old habits],” said France's Health Minister Agnès Buzyn. “With the rise in tax [on cigarettes] we can hope that these results are sustainable.”
“Tobacco is a trajectory of inequality, it weighs particularly on the most disadvantaged and it gets worse,” said the minister.
Among the “most disadvantaged” people France, 34 percent smoked every day in 2017, against 38.8 percent in 2016 and among the unemployed, 43.5 percent smoked in 2017 compared to 49.7 percent in 2016. 
“On top of the rise in national tax, which has already proved fruitful, we are working at the European level on a European tax framework,” said Buzyn.
“In France, I remind you, tobacco kills 200 people every day (…) We know that one in two smokers will die of tobacco,” said the minister, adding that it is necessary “to continue this major fight against one of the biggest scourges of public health.”
Cutting down on the number of smokers in France has been a key aim of the current government since it came into power last year. 
In 2017, The Local reported that French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had said that with 80,000 tobacco-related deaths in France each year, “doing nothing is not an option”.
Tobacco “is the leading cause of preventable death, and daily use is growing among adolescents,” the premier said in a speech to parliament.
And in January 2017, the previous government introduced plain packaging — with its accompanying shocking photos — in the hope that it would decrease the number of French smokers.
The price of a packet of cigarettes has increased incrementally, with smokers currently paying an average of €7.90 euros, according to France's Ministry of Health.
The French and smoking: Is France really 'Europe's chimney'
French actress Brigitte Bardot lights up a film set, but times have changed since the heedy and very smoky 1960s. Photo: AFP