That New French Fragrance: Fresh Air

French café-goers could smell the scent of change on Wednesday, when a new smoking ban went into effect. Smoking is now forbidden in cafés, restaurants, and nightclubs. France without cigarette smoke? It’s a new era.

Of course, such an act does not come without controversy and debate, especially in France. According to the AP article linked above, not everyone’s happy about the ban:

Some diehard smokers blamed health-obsessed Americans for starting the trend. But others were delighted by being able to sip or serve a strong espresso without finishing the day with clothes smelling of second-hand smoke.

The article wouldn’t be complete with a quote from some overly dramatic, curmudgeonly French smoker: “‘They’re banning tobacco practically like it’s cocaine,’ said Jean-Yves Oussedik, drawing on his pipe–and braving a near-freezing chill–on the sidewalk terrace of cafe Les Deux Magots, a famed Left Bank institution.”

Of course, there’s also the French waiter who denies that France has lost her soul in the process of banning smoking. “On the contrary,” says 19-year café veteran Gilles, “we are breathing.”

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