France goes smokefree

In collaboration with the Press Association

France has become the latest European nation to join the smokefree club with the launch of new rules on smoking in public places this week.

The legislation will prevent people from lighting up in enclosed public spaces such as stations, shops, offices and schools. It will be extended to bars and restaurants by December.

Recent polling has shown 70 per cent of all French people support the legislation, as do 50 per cent of all French smokers.

The new rules follow similar laws in Ireland, Italy and Scotland. Wales and Northern Ireland will go smokefree on April 2nd and 30th respectively, followed by England on July 1st.

People who ignore the rules will be subject to fines of 68 euros (), while businesses who do not enforce them will be subject to fines of for each case.

"There could well be fines if there are people who refuse to co-operate. But I am very confident," health minister Xavier Bertrand told the BBC.

"Smokers are increasingly understanding, non-smokers are increasingly determined, and above all there has been a striking change in attitudes."

Around 79,000 people in the EU are estimated to die due to secondhand smoke every year, around one in nine of all tobacco-related deaths.

Over 600 people in the UK are estimated to die from workplace exposure to cigarette smoke every year.