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Smoking: Letting Go Can Be So Hard

  • January 20th, 2011
  • Posted by 7thmin

gauloises-resize.jpgRebellious responses by cafe goers in Greece or Spain in recent weeks, to strictures against smoking in public places, are just newer  installations in a battle of the last two decades …

tati-jacques-lfscz.jpegSmoking in buildings of the then European Community was banned in 1987, occasioning much grumbling in the corridors of power, but foreshadowing universal bans in public areas within the present-day EU.

Then, at the beginning of 1991, France’s Loi Envin, the law named for the relevant Minister of the day, came down hard on the promotion of smoking and alcohol.

simenon-georges.jpegmaigret-gwthomasorg.jpegThis week a parliamentary committee in Paris determined that the much objected-to, much-supported French law, in regard to smoking at least, was to be interpreted henceforth without too much rigour – where “cultural” issues were involved.

magritte-pipe.jpgIt means, evidently, a stop to perverse censoring of images, of the likes of Jacques Tati, “mon oncle” the smoker, and a bundle of other elegant fumeurs, viz a neighbour, Belgian writer Georges Simenon, and his character Commissaire Jules Maigret — pipe-smokers both; and not to overlook fellow Belgian and surrealist painter, Rene Magritte, creator of the poster perennial pipe/not-a-pipe.

Anniversary post mortems on the Loi Envin this month have generally averred that the array of taxes and prohibitions on advertising have worked for tobacco, (barring exceptions, like world-wide growth in smoking among young girls), with reduced abuse of the substance.

It is less so in the case of drinking, with the law of the land still at war with such well-established cultural habits as having a few drinks to accompany a good lunch, before going out on the road (to be breath-tested).

After all it was not very long ago that truck drivers enjoying a set-price lunch at a Routier restaurant might expect, and find a full bottle of vin du pays – local wine – ready on the table.


Amélie Deloraine, “La loi Evin fête ses 20 ans”, (Law Envin celebrates its 20th anniversary), Lyon Webzine, Lyon, 10.1.11., (20.1.11).

Le Bien Public, Bourgogne-presse, “Loi Evin, 20 ans après: peut mieux faire”, (Loi Envin after 20 years, going a little better), 12.1.11., (20.1.11).

Le Monde, Paris, AFP, Tati pourra refumer la pipe tranquille, (Tati will be able to enjoy a tranquil pipe once more), 19.1.11., (20.1.11).


Gallic, and Gauloises symbol; Jacquesa Tati, actor,; Georges Simenon,, and “Jules Maigret”; Pipe by Magritte