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Minister to harden anti-tobacco laws

Anniversary of smoking ban sees moves to target bars and clubs that are breaking law

TWENTY years after France first voted in a law against smoking in public, health minister Xavier Bertrand says he wants tougher measures to see the law being enforced “everywhere and for everyone”.

Hailing the ground-breaking Loi Évin, Mr Bertrand said that, although it was now universally accepted, they could not “drop their guard” and he intended to introduce new measures in the next few months.

Named after social affairs minister Claude Évin, the Loi Évin was passed in 1991 and increased restrictions on tobacco – and alcohol – advertising, set up regular price increases and restricted smoking in public places. It was strengthened in 2006 by Mr Bertrand, in an earlier period as health minister, when smoking was banned in railways stations, bars, restaurants and clubs.

However, anti-smoking campaigners said recent surveys had shown more bars and clubs were ignoring the law. A 2009 poll by TNS for Droits des Non-Fumeurs (DNF) showed an increase in the number of enclosed terraces available for smokers. Bars and clubs were also simply ignoring the ban: 21 per cent were breaking the law.

The law is not policed as such and Mr Bertrand has promised tougher enforcement action.

Tobacco sales in France have halved since 1991, as has the rate of lung cancer for men between 35 and 44. However, the rate has risen 400 per cent among women. Health watchdog Inpes said the number of habitual smokers has risen two per cent over the past five years, to 28.7 per cent.

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