French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Sunday that France would ban smoking in public places from next February, while bars, restaurants and nightclubs could delay applying the order until January 2008.
"I am convinced the French people are now ready," said Villepin, adding France will join in other European nations like Ireland, Spain, Britain and Italy to adopt similar measures.
Villepin noted that some 5,000 French people die every year from passive smoking. "This is a totally unacceptable situation in terms of public health. We have therefore decided from February 1 to ban smoking in public places," he said.
Smoking will be banned officially in all public places including schools, shops and offices from Feb. 1. The exceptions are bars, restaurants and nightclubs, which will be given to Jan. 1, 2008, to adapt to new regulations.
After Jan. 1, 2008, these categories will be required to have installed strictly supervised smoking rooms.
The decree will be ready by November in order to comply with a three-month period necessary for its implementation.
Persons contravening the ban will be subject to fines of 75 euros (US$95). Management will be subject to fines of 150 euros.
(Xinhua News Agency October 9, 2006)