The French government introduced the EVIN law in 1991, which gave everyone the right not to be exposed to smoke from someone else’s cigarettes. However, the law seems to have been effectively ignored. Recently ministers issued guidelines to businesses which are open to the public that they should, wherever possible, provide non smoking areas.
In October 2005 Swiss born Felix Leisinger became the new owner of the 350 year old Hôtel Saint-Louis in Autun, Saône et Loire, after working for many years in London.
As the founder of the worldwide Equal Earth Philosophy M. Leisinger is aware of the dangers which tobacco can cause not only to oneself and non smokers but also to the environment.
‘The tobacco plantations could be used to grow wheat and rice for the world’s starving,’ he says, ‘but with tobacco being so toxic it would take more than 30 years for the earth to recover enough to allow crops to be grown in the soil.’
When M. Leisinger became aware of the EVIN law, he proceeded to implement the law in his establishment. He was warned he could face problems amongst clients and staff however, he says, he has encountered only one criticism. ‘One gentleman was upset when told he couldn’t smoke but the situation was quickly dealt with.’
‘The staff has been extremely cooperative, they happily smoke outside of the hotel and of their own accord they put up ‘non fumeur’ signs throughout the hotel and restaurant.’
M. Leisinger hopes that peoples’ consciences will encourage them to respect the law and also to come to respect the environment for future generations. ‘People don’t seem to take on board that they are damaging their health or that of others but they can be persuaded that the environment is at risk.’
Jean-Michel and Jill Carré have run Le Calibressan restaurant in Semur-en-Auxois, Cote d’Or, for ten years.
About a year ago they found people were starting to request non smoking areas which their small restaurant of just 50m2 was not equipped for.
Californian born Jill says, ‘It is mainly the tourists, who are more aware of the dangers of smoking that require a smoke free environment to eat.’
‘We were discussing what we could do in such a small space as some clients were quite forceful about no smoking. Then the paperwork arrived regarding the *EVIN* law and it was a relief. We became a non smoking restaurant at the beginning of October and, so far, it has been a success.’
Regular customers have accepted the change and Jill ensures she tells people that smoking is not allowed when she takes a booking. Smoking amongst the staff is not a problem as Jill and Jean-Michel work alone, and as neither smokes, Jill now feels she can retire at night without the smell of smoke lingering on her clothes.
Benoit Yvon runs La Sirene hotel, bar and tabac in Montbard, Cote d’Or with his wife and three staff.
M Yvon feels banning smoking contravenes civil liberties. He feels it would be totally insensitive to ban smoking in his bar when 80% of his clients at the tabac are smokers who then spend two to three hours in the bar. Smoking, he believes is part of their lives and health concerns are not a priority.
Personally, M Yvon claims, as his business is of a medium size, he would face an insupportable loss.
Burgundy now has at least eight restaurants, cafés, chambre d’hôtes, hôtels and Auberges where smoking is prohibited.
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