The interior of a bar in Paris before smoking was banned inside at the end of 2007.

Paris: 100% tobacco
The bistros of Paris might soon be the last bastion of cigarette smoke in the civilized world. While bars in the Balkans and former Soviet states are characterized by the fug of filterless fags, many of those in the West are zoned or completely smoke-free. The UK looks soon to follow Dublin’s lead and ban smoking in pubs and bars, in a move already adopted by the Wetherspoons chain.

Italy has recently gone tobacco-free, and even Greece has introduced smokeless zones in its bars. With strong peer pressure so close to home, in October 2004 Paris city council launched its campaign «Ici, c’est 100% sans tabac», illustrated with a bright happily throwing its arms out in glee at the lack of nicotine. As of early 2005, 36 of the 12,500 drinking establishments across Paris have signed up to the campaign—nearly a quarter are in the Starbucks chain. Half were already non-smoking venues. The catering industry union UMIH has pointed out that nearly half of the city’s cafés sell tobacco, and national laws force venues to provide no-smoking zones anyway—although these are not always adhered to, or, at least, rarely indicated. With a third of the local adult population happy to smoke, the chances of a sea change in social (or perhaps antisocial) drinking habits seem unlikely.

—published in the Time Out Paris Visitors’ Guide, Summer 2005.