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Smoking In Paris

Updated on October 5, 2011

The French are known for their love of food, fine wine and yes, smoking. Famous French thinkers and artists are often pictured puffing a cigarette, like Camus, Jean-Paul Sarte, and Coco Chanel . The smoking cliché may be on its way out thanks to various campaigns to eliminate smoking in the cafes and public areas of Paris.

Tobacco use in France dates back at least 400 years. American tobacco was brought to Catherine De Medici , as a cure for her migraines, by the ambassador Jean Nicot . Nicotine is named after this Frenchman.

Paris is not currently the smoking capital of the world, but it is topped only by Havana, Cuba and Moscow. Smokers make up 20-25% of the French population and smoking is increasingly popular and acceptable among the young.

Smoking is limited in public spaces in Paris.
Smoking is limited in public spaces in Paris.

Many Parisian smokers see the new laws as an infringement on their rights and are not accepting this ban with ease. It will be an end of one of their favorite ways of socializing; sitting in a café or restaurant sipping coffee, and smoking. Although most restaurants have had smoking and non-smoking sections for some time, smoking sections will have to be completely eliminated unless they are completely enclosed and properly ventilated to prevent second hand smoke from drifting into the faces of non-smoking patrons.

The many smoke-free tourists from around the world and the much-neglected non-smoking Parisians will certainly appreciate the bans that will enable them to breathe easier.

If you are trying to avoid second hand smoke in Paris, here is a list of where you will find smoke free air.

Smoking Banned From Paris Cafes

  • Smoking is prohibited in shops, hospitals and theatres.
  • All schools and universities are smoke free by law.
  • Public open spaces such as playgrounds and sports stadiums
  • Public buildings, and transport stations.
  • Restaurants will provide non-smoking sections for patrons; some restaurants are entirely smoke free.
  • New restrictions were passed in early 2008 affecting smoking in cafes and clubs. Tourists may find that this ban is not yet enforced efficiently.


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    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Hi Sally, I agree, time (and money) could certainly be better spent on other more important campaigns. I think that about many of the hot issues of the day, though, and I am usually alone in that!

      Thanks for a great comment, as always!

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      10 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      The video says it all about the smoking ban. Citizens mourn the passing of a special comeraderie as well as the passing of an acceptance of a cherished way of life, which is a freedom for all. But, nonetheless, French citizens will join the majority of countries in the effort to ban smoking.

      I am sorry to see this happen. I wish the efforts put into anti-smoking campaigns were put into anti-war, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, and anti-genocide campaigns. I think the anti-smoking emphasis is a ruse to deflect us from protesting against the events that are really going to kill us as a world's people.

      Amy, great hub, as usual. And this one is especially thought-provoking.

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks pintofmilk, I'll check it out :)

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Nicolas, I have not been there to experience the ban yet, and I am glad to hear that it is being enforced - for the health of everyone affected. Cliches happily abandoned (by me anyway).

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Well, I guess you haven't been to France yet to experience the new ban. And guess what, it is actually enforced: the smoking ban is a real success in France! It's time to eliminate your old clichés about French people!

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      LOL! Yes, it seems like they plan on simply ignoring the laws! I think peolpe are far more tolerant of smokers there. Someone would call the police on you in NY in a heartbeat! And they would probably get an angry mob to hold you down until they got there :)

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      10 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Enjoyed this one Amy Jane--Parisians are notorious for disobeying traffic rules--don't expect they will be much different with no smoking restrictions LOL. Vive La France :-)


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