Previously, under the Loi Evin, smoking was restricted in enclosed public places, and in areas that constitute a place of work. Designated smoking areas may be provided within these premises, so long as priority was given to the protection of non-smokers, and set ventilation standards were respected. In restaurants and bars, there was flexibility regarding the amount of space designated for smoking and non-smoking areas, again so long as priority was given to non-smokers. Smoking is prohibited on suburb trains and on the Paris underground. SNCF (the French state railway company) introduced a ban on smoking in late 2005. All Air France flights are non-smoking.
A bill proposing an end to smoking in public places was submitted to the French Parliament in Autumn 2005. The bill was backed by more than 60 politicians and supports the decision made in France’s highest court in June, which ruled that employers must protect workers from secondhand smoke. However, the bill failed to win the support of ruling-parties deputies.
In April 2006 health minister Xavier Bertrand confirmed that a ban on smoking in public places was on the agenda and said that there would be a consultation on the issue. President Jacques Chirac said, in May, that “final decisions” would be made before the end of the year.