Comment: Well, this seems familiar. Here in Tokyo, where smoking is still very common, many of the wards have gone so far as to prohibit smoking on the public streets. This has led to the sight of "Smoking Rooms" -- sponsored by Japan Tobacco -- in some commercial areas, where smokers go inside a storefront or standalone bus-shelter-like structure on the sidewalk to smoke. Given the price and rents of commercial real estate in Tokyo, this cannot be cheap.
By Elaine Sciolino, New York Times
One of the most memorable scenes in French films is Jean-Paul Belmondo lifting his head, dragging on a cigarette and rubbing his thumb back and forth across his lips in Breathless. (He smokes about two dozen times in the movie.)
There is something about smoking that seems very French.
But as in other European countries, smoking in public increasingly has fallen out of favor here. This week, after a five-month governmental inquiry, a parliamentary committee approved a proposal to ban smoking in public areas.
Under the measure, cafes, hotels, restaurants, discos and casinos could designate spaces for smoking only if they could be “hermetically sealed areas, furnished with air-extraction systems and subject to extremely rigorous health norms.”
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said he would decide quickly how to proceed on the matter. “The French people would not understand if we do not make a decision” in the face of the research, he told members of Parliament on Monday.
But not everyone here agrees. To diehard smokers and many tobacconists and bar and restaurant owners, the campaign reflects the loss of a core French value — the rights of the individual.