Non fumeur aux cafÃ©s? SacrÃ© bleu!
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images Is there nowhere left in the world where you can wear a beret, drink a capuccino, discuss Sartre, and enjoy a cigarette? Sure seems like it. Last February, France enacted a law banning smoking in office, stores, schools, and hospitals. Totally makes sense. But starting January 1, the ban will be extended ...
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
Is there nowhere left in the world where you can wear a beret, drink a capuccino, discuss Sartre, and enjoy a cigarette? Sure seems like it. Last February, France enacted a law banning smoking in office, stores, schools, and hospitals. Totally makes sense. But starting January 1, the ban will be extended to bars, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, and—gasp!—the café. Surprisingly, 66 percent of the French support the ban. But not everyone is happy:
People say that a café is the thermometer of a country,” said Cécile Perez, 54, owner of La Fronde, a bar-tobacco store in the historic Marais district. “In a café, while we smoke, we meet new people, we exchange ideas, we learn, we listen, we talk about everything. If we stop that, what do we have left?”
France is just the latest to join a slew of places that have banned smoking in once-smoky areas. The state of California banned smoking in enclosed spaces in 1998. New York City did the same in 2002. Ireland became the first entire country to do so in 2004, followed by Italy in 2005. Sweden followed a few months later, then Denmark and Britain in the summer of 2007. After France, next up is Romania and the Netherlands in 2008. Mind you, none of these places are actually banning cigarettes. For that, you have to go to Bhutan—the only country today where the sale of tobacco is forbidden.
I grew up in healthy Boulder, Colorado where smoking is viewed on par with drinking a vat of bacon grease. I didn’t even try my first cigarette until I was 21, and since then I’ve had probably one cigarette a year. But nevertheless, I actually do find the total ban to be a tad excessive. I think it’s a good idea to forbid smoking in offices, hospitals and schools, and yes, even restaurants. But when I go to a bar, I kind of expect a little smoke.
My solution? Bars and cafes should apply for tobacco licenses just the way a they apply for liquor licenses. That way there will be some smoking places, and some non-smoking places. Those that want to indulge in their vice should have to pay a little extra fee. My plan protects people’s health, it protects people’s freedom, and the government gets a little extra income too. Everyone wins!
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