Smoke-Free Paris Clears the Air
Smoking ban ends French tradition
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2008 10:35 AM CST
Tourists enjoy a cigarette at the terrace of a cafe-restaurant on the pavement of the Champs Elysees in Paris, Tuesday Jan. 1, 2008, the only place where it is allowed to smoke, on the first day of the...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The hazy, brooding atmosphere of Parisian cafes and bars has changed overnight with a French ban on smoking in public places. Clouds of smoke from scores of Gauloises and Gitanes cigarettes, which once hung over France's most celebrated salons and dining rooms, have wafted away. Similar bans are already in force across Europe.

"Our objective isn't to annoy people, but to protect them," the French health minister said. "This is a new art of life supported by 80% of our citizens." Fines against smokers who break the law range from $100-$660, while noncompliant businesses face penalties of more than $1,000. "We prefer the ban," one brasserie owner said. "If they want to smoke they can go outside."