When we started holidaying in France many years ago, we were constantly aware of French smoking habits. We are strictly non-smoking and horribly intolerant of a smoky atmosphere so used to find eating out at times quite a struggle.
When we first lived in Paris our sons were school age and I remember asking them whether their school friends smoked. They estimated that 90% of them did, compared with roughly 10% in the UK.
While we were there a ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces was introduced to great cries of protest, and no apparent effect. Bars and restaurants were obliged to provide no smoking areas but again, the rule was often ignored. Many times we have been to a restaurant and asked to be seated in the no-smoking area, only to be put at a table with a notice beside it proclaiming it to be the espace non-fumeur, but separated by nothing whatsoever from the smoke producing clientele. Worse still, our requests were often met by the Gallic shrug and/or a blank stare.
In the last few years though, things have changed radically and the smoky bars and restaurants seem to have disappeared. Since February smoking has been banned in restaurants but even before that we had remarked on how few people were smoking. We haven’t even been concerned about where we were seated. It really is a pleasant change.
Now, when are they going to start on driving habits? Could overtaking on blind corners be banned?