Monday, October 09, 2006

France to Ban Public Smoking

France has taken a big step toward overcoming its love of whacko-tobacco cigarettes. The national tobacco companies run by the government [natch!] have made trillions of francs taxing French cigarettes, whose odor is almost as bad as their taste, over the last century and a half.

In the late '90s, I stayed with a friend in Paris who worked for the IEA and his wife, who was investigating lung cancer for an international institute, told me that records and health information about lung cancer, smoking, cancer deaths and other relevant information was impossible to obtain from French governmental institutions. She said that anecdotal information she had gleaned from informed government sources sympathetic with her investigation estimated that over 100,000 people died in France each year from lung cancer and other diseases linked to smoking. But there was no public information available less than ten years ago. Her read on the situation was that the government simply wanted to keep the high revenues from tobacco consumption unabated for as long as possible.

So Paris will never be quite the same once smoking is banned from bars and cafes beginning in 2008. But life spans will elongate, and illnesses from lung disease will diminish. On balance, for the good.

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