Smoking No Longer Très Chic in France – New York Times
President Jacques Chirac, who at one time smoked up to three packs a day, declared a “war on tobacco” in 2003 and imposed steep tax increases on cigarettes. Today, nearly 80 percent of the French support the idea of a smoking ban in public places.
Still, about 12 million of the French — about 20 percent of the population — are smokers, according to official government figures, and more than 70,000 people die in France every year from smoking-related illnesses and secondhand smoke.
Smoking remains particularly prevalent and acceptable among young people. French public high schools routinely allow students to smoke during breaks.
Italy’s ban on smoking in public places last January was met with fierce public resistance, including a campaign for a national referendum to overturn it and the publication by newspapers of lists of smoker-friendly restaurants. One movie theater showed a Mexican film called “Nicotina” and offered free admission for customers who showed up with a pack of cigarettes.