lundi 11 février 2008

Ne pas fumer

January 1, 2008 marked a major historical milestone in France. On that day, the new smoking law came into effect. France has effectively followed the rest of the civilized and not-so-civilized world on the puritanical bandwagon of banning smoking in all public places. Who knew the French had it in them? Between that and all the latest giggling adolescent titillation over their president's love life, I'm beginning to wonder if the French aren't stuck on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Now if they could only get good customer service...

But I digress. Knowing in advance that this new law would come into effect at the beginning of the year, I was seriously worried that the entire country would be nicotine-jonesing and thus in a very grumpy mood indeed. I seriously worried about my personal safety and briefly considered taking a trip somewhere just to be away from it all. I know from personal experience that nicotine withdrawal can make one awfully testy (and since I decided to join the French in kicking the habit this year, Maki can corroborate). Surprisingly, though, people have remained remarkably nonchalant about the whole thing. I have thus far only witnessed one incident of aggression between a law-abiding bar owner and a nicotine-starved patron. (no, it wasn't me, I swear)

What has been funny, though, has been observing gaggles of smokers crowding outside bar and restaurant doors having their quickie smokes. I've also noticed that the "sidewalk cafe" phenomenon has suddenly exploded (despite the cold weather) to ridiculous extremes. I mean,there are certain establishments that have nice and wide streetfronts and are thus meant to (in nice weather) have tables outside. But now, just about any little hole in the wall has pitched up a couple of plastic tables and chairs on whatever little bit of narrow pavement they can claim so their customers can sit outside and freeze to death.

See what I mean?

A few weeks ago, when it was freezing outside, it was kind of funny to watch people sitting in these chairs, drinking their coffees and smoking their Gauloises.

Now that the weather has turned warmer, Paris suddenly feels springlike with masses of people sitting outside in the most unlikely places.

Maki seems to think that the new smoking law is unloved and unpopular and thus will not last long. I suppose she imagines there will be some sort of mass civil disobedience. But from what I've seen, people have pretty much adapted to the new reality. The only real long-term implications will be more butts (cigarette and human) on the ever-narrower sidewalks and more cases of pneumonia in winter.

Aucun commentaire: