Feature

What we lose when we ban smoking

The week's news at a glance.

France

Laurent Greilsamer
Le Monde

France is becoming irritatingly smoke-free, said Laurent Greilsamer in Paris’ Le Monde. French air was once “deliciously warm and heavy, air that permeated us, enveloped us.” We could trace our movements through the faint cloud of smoke that made up the environment, both indoors and out. The comforting scent of cigarettes “clung to our clothes, burnished our walls, spiced our breath.” Now it is gone. Incremental restrictions on smoking, passed bit by bit over the last two decades, have had an insidious effect. “We became hypersensitive to the least odor. Nearly hysterical. The less smoke we could smell, the less we could stand.” These days, even those of us who still claim to be smokers refuse to inhale the smoke of others. So when Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin declares, as he did last week, that France is ready for a complete ban on smoking in public places, he is merely acknowledging the status quo. In a decade, “a smoker will be as rare in France as a lover of horsemeat is today.”

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