Wednesday, January 17, 2007

France clears air in offices, public buildings

The haze of smoke in France will begin to clear this month as France adopts a nationwide smoking ban in offices and public buildings. By the end of this year, smoking will also be banned in cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, and casinos.

The clean-air legislation follows the lead of Spain, Italy, and Ireland. More than 65,000 French people die each year from smoking-related illness or effects of second-hand smoke.

The move follows a steep decline in the popularity of smoking in France. In the 1950s, about three quarters of French males smoked. Today, about three quarters do not smoke.

Government policy had a hand in the change. Federal taxes raised the price of cigarettes by more than half in the past three years. They now cost about $6.66 a pack.

Starting in February, the ministry will give would-be quitters $66 coupons redeemable for the purchase of nicotine patches, chewing gum or lozenges. Read more.

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