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l Ecosse will leave French smokers fuming in the toilets But as in other European countries, smoking in public is becoming taboo much to the annoyance of many who are used to lighting up pretty much anywhere, even in the revered corridors of power. Last week, after a five month government inquiry, a parliamentary committee approved a proposal to ban smoking in public areas. Under the measure, cafs, hotels, restaurants, discos and casinos could designate spaces for smoking only if they could be "hermetically sealed areas, furnished with air extraction systems and subject to extremely rigorous health norms". Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said he would decide quickly how to proceed on the matter. "The French people would not understand if we do not make a decision" in the face of the research, he told members of parliament last week. But not everyone agrees. To diehard smokers and many tobacconists and bar and restaurant owners, the campaign reflects the loss of a core French value the rights of the individual. "I see this as a personal attack," said Andr Santini, a centre right member of parliament from a Paris suburb and compulsive cigar smoker, who posed for photographers last week in the tobacco kiosk in the National Assembly building. "What disturbs me is the ayatollahs you meet everywhere. They tell you how you have to make love, how you have to eat." At the end of the year, the kiosk will no longer sell cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos, only sweets and newspapers. Just as bad, he said, smoking will eventually be banned in the high ceilinged corridors of the National Assembly itself. "I ll end my life where I started it in the men s room," said Jean Pierre Balligand, of the opposition Socialist Party. "I started smoking like every other schoolboy, in the toilets of my junior high school. And that s where I ll end up, in the toilets of the National Assembly, while the school principal, Mr Debr, screams at us for smoking." The "school principal" is Jean Louis Debr, the president of the National Assembly, who ordered the ban on the sale of tobacco products inside parliament to "set the example". France s history with tobacco goes back more than four centuries. Nicotine is named after Jean Nicot, a 16th century ambassador to Portugal who took tobacco leaves imported from America to Catherine de Medici as a cure for her migraines. But France was also at the forefront in the anti smoking movement in Europe, passing what was then the toughest legislation on the Continent, in 1991. Smoking was banned in most public places, including restaurants, except in designated areas. Tobacco products were required to carry health warnings. Cigarette advertising was banned in 1993. But there were loopholes and application of the law has been uneven. The new measure is even stronger by making it difficult and expensive to create separate smoking areas. President Jacques Chirac, who at one time smoked up to three packets a day, declared a "war on tobacco" in 2003, and imposed steep tax increases on cigarettes. Today, nearly 80% of the French support the idea of a smoking ban in public places. Still, ugg sale boots about 12 million of the French about 20% of the population are smokers, according to official government figures, and more than 70,000 people die in France every year from smoking related illnesses and secondhand smoke. Smoking remains particularly prevalent and acceptable among young people. Public high schools routinely allow students to smoke during breaks. Maison Prunier, the landmark Art Deco oyster and caviar brasserie in Paris, still sells high end, after meal cigars to its clientele. But even its managers believe that a ban might not be a bad thing. "We serve gourmet meals, so it s unfortunate ugg boots south africa that cigars are smoked here," said Benot Rade, one of Prunier s matres d htel. "Smoke is a problem for most of our employees, some clients, too." La Coupole, the vast, classic Paris brasserie whose trademark once was a haze of smoke, imposed a near total smoking ban on its own initiative last July in anticipation of a government decree. Many French businessmen predict serious disruption of their businesses and a decline in profits. They certainly would demand compensation. "There is going to be considerable damage," said Franois Attrazic, the leader of the leading restaurant and hotel owners union and a restaurant owner (and occasional smoker). "We haven t assessed how much it will be because it s complicated, but we are hearing things from the countries that have bans, and what it shows is a drop of 25% to 30% in sales in some establishments." The issue was so divisive that de Villepin postponed a decision last spring, asking his health minister, Xavier Bertrand, to carry out a "deep evaluation of the different solutions". Bertrand, who has long advocated a measure to protect people from secondhand smoke in public, said last week: "My conviction is that it s necessary to ban tobacco in public places as soon as possible." Once de Villepin announces his decision, it is expected to be issued as a sort of government ordered amendment to the existing law. That will prevent the parliament or a lobbying group from trying to block the ban, which would go into effect before next September. Some anti smoking politicians want to take their campaign further. Charles Amde de Courson, a centre right member, last year introduced a proposal in the National Assembly to ban the sale of chocolate cigars, arguing that young people who had consumed them were twice as likely to smoke. Yves Contassot, a deputy mayor of Paris, meanwhile, recently floated a proposal to start fining smokers who threw their butts on the street. STUBBING OUT ACROSS EUROPE ANTI SMOKING policies have been sweeping Europe since 2003. France began the European trend by raising the price of cigarettes by 20% in October 2003. In Spain, a law banning smoking in offices, shops, schools, hospitals, cultural centres and on public transport was introduced in January this year. Italy imposed a ban on smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants, in January last year to a flurry of complaints that cigarettes and smoking are an integral part of Italian bar and cafe culture. The Netherlands also prohibited cigarettes from many public places including railway stations, trains, toilets ugg boots best price and offices. In Norway, a national ban is also imposed on smoking in restaurants, bars and cafes.

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Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey interview The mega hyped Oprah Winfrey interview with Lance Armstrong airs tonight, as most everybody on Planet Earth has heard by now. The media attention has been fierce, and it s not because Armstrong decided to finally open up about his true feelings for Jodie Foster, or his favorite BBQ joints in Austin. Anti Doping Agency. After years of steadfast denials, Armstrong has seen his career crumble in the wake of the USADA report. Winfrey, meanwhile, is enjoying a burst official ugg of attention to her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) channel,, which has struggled for ratings and recognition. Tonight will most likely be the first time most people have attempted ugg stores uk to find the channel on their TV. On Frontier, OWN is on Channel 161. Oprah Winfrey ugg boots uk s exclusive, no holds barred interview with Lance Armstrong, Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive, has expanded to air as a two night event on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. The special episode of Oprah s Next Chapter

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