PARIS, Jan 1, 2008 (AFP) – France began 2008 under a new smoking ban in cafes and restaurants that drove smokers out into the street to light up their cigarettes as bar owners put away ashtrays.
The ban signals a sizeable cultural shift for one of Europe’s last smokers’ bastions, particularly in Paris where cafe society and cigarettes have traditionally gone hand-in-hand.
“It’s an enjoyable moment that is now gone forever: smoking over coffee,” said Brigitte Caboulet, puffing on her cigarette outside a Paris boulevard cafe early Tuesday.
Like many other smokers standing out in the cold, Caboulet said she was resigned to the fact that she could no longer light up in her favourite cafe.
“Soon, we will be like the Americans. We won’t be able to wear perfume,” she quipped.
“I’ll get used to it,” said Thomas Sechet, tossing his cigarette butt on the sidewalk. “We’ve known for a while that this was coming.”
Despite some grumblings, opinion polls show broad support for the ban, which came into effect with the ringing in of the New Year, 11 months after France banned smoking in workplaces, shops and other public areas.
Under France’s anti-tobacco law, cafes, restauran