French mayor bans smoking in village and cars due to forest fire risk

The decree aims to raise people’s awareness, especially as the village is surrounded by dry pine forest

Those who break the rule risk a €15 fine
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A mayor in southern France has banned people from smoking in their vehicles and in most of his village’s centre in a bid to lower the risk of forest fires, as the risk of a blaze remains high.

Langlade (Gard, Occitanie) is a 2,000-inhabitant village surrounded by pine forest.

Mayor Gaëtan Prevoteau has now taken out a decree that bans people both from smoking in their cars – to avoid cigarettes being thrown out of windows along the roadside – and in the village itself (outside of designated areas).

Those who break the rule risk a €15 fine.

The village is surrounded by extremely dry vegetation, putting it at risk of fire.

Mr Prevoteau said: “The aim is prevention, and I am coming down hard because I think that it’s super-important to raise people’s awareness but we are not ‘against’ cigarettes.”

Some residents have welcomed the move. One told TF1: “We see firefighters almost every day, and hear sirens, so why not take such a measure? It’s not a big limitation not to smoke when you’re going through Langlade.”

Hikers in the area are also in favour of the decision. One said: “It’s very simple. It hasn’t rained. Forest fires [elsewhere] are huge now. The tiniest spark from a match and it goes. There are a lot of dead pine trees here. If it sets alight, it’ll be an inferno.”

Other residents are less convinced. One said: “It’s a bit over the top to fine people because they’re smoking in their car,” while another said: “It seems impossible to enforce because you’d need a police officer checking every car.”

It comes after firefighters predicted a difficult summer ahead for France due to the risk of fire, and several forests have already been closed to the public in the south of the country due to the situation.

Last year, a huge blaze around Var that killed two people, destroyed more than 7,100 hectares of vegetation, and required more than 1,100 firefighters to put out was thought to have been started by a discarded cigarette butt.

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