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France faces end of coffee and cigarettes

  • Story Highlights
  • Smoking ban in France extended to bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes from Jan 1
  • Smoking ban first introduced in February 2007 for public buildings, workplaces
  • About 13.5 million people in France smoke out of a population of 60 million
  • Similar bans now exist in Ireland, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Britain
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PARIS, France (CNN) -- As a look, it is about as quintessentially French as it gets. All the same, from the New Year enjoying a cigarette while you sip on your cafe au lait will become a thing of the past.

France is extending its ban on smoking to include bars, discotheques, restaurants, hotels, casinos, as well as its fabled cafes.

In a country renowned for its fondness for romance, smoking has never quite shaken off its romantic associations with smoky Left Bank cafes and waifish Parisienne beauties clutching on a Gauloises.

In spite of the health dangers, about 13.5 million people smoke out of a population of 60 million with around 26 percent of 15 year olds estimated to smoke, according to 2002 figures from the World Health Organization.

A smoking ban was first introduced in France in February this year to cover workplaces, schools, airports and hospitals.

The new restrictions will only apply to the inside of premises, meaning smokers are still free to light up on the terraces.

Even so, enforcing the ban may prove tricky in a country well known for its cafe culture.

To soften the blow, the authorities have agreed to an amnesty over the New Year holiday and will not fully enforce the new arrangements until Wednesday.

After that time, any smoker caught will face a fine of €450 ($662), while hotel and bar owners who fail to prevent smokers from lighting up on their premises will be fined €750 ($1,100).

France has lagged behind many of its European neighbors in bringing in legislation to curb smoking in public places.

Ireland became the first European country to introduce a comprehensive smoking ban in 2004. Since then Italy, Spain, Belgium and Britain have followed suit with similar bans. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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