Kids applaud smoking ban in cafés. And of course they’ll never light up a cigarette

Three weeks ago, you would have never met Victor, aged 5, having dinner in Café Charbon, located in the trendy area of Oberkampf, in Paris. At 9.30 pm in 2007, as breathing was difficult because of the smoke-filled room, his parents did not bring Victor inside. A new population of young kids with parents has seemingly been emerging in bars and cafés of the city since the smoking ban in all public establishments came into force on January 1st. “As smokers, the law is a bit harsh to us. But as parents, we definitely approve it. Now, it’s an easy time to go out with our son,” the mother observes, confessing she is eager to leave the café to light up a cigarette, at last.

Her boyfriend used to live in New York City where smoking ban in is an old affair so he has no difficulty taking new habits. And although he smokes almost twenty cigarettes a day, he has always been careful toward his boy. “I hate smoke because it smells bad,” Victor expresses. “But Daddy always smokes into the kitchen to make me keep away of that.

Victor is not the youngest of those new “customers”. “On Sunday afternoon, the café is full of babies in pushchairs and I can swear you hear them screaming and crying!” observes the waitress, known in the bar as “Mimi from Charbon”.

On Wednesday afternoon, best known as kids’ day, Laura, aged 7 “and half”, is roaming around the Café Conti, in Saint-Germain-des-Prés area, while her father is having a coffee & cigarette time on the terrace before the movie they came to see starts. “I prefer staying inside because I can’t stand smelling Daddy’s smoke.” She swears she will never start smoking. “I already tried Mum’s pipe, but not on purpose of course! It made me choking. Above all, I know it’s really bad for health.

Laura got aware of the smoking ban on TV news. But she does not believe it will make her father stop smoking. “The only means to make it possible would be hiding his tobacco away. That is what my auntie suggested!” And what for those who do not abide by the law? Laura is convinced an ingenious system exists: “Imagine a special card which identify cheaters. They would be obliged to wear it so that tobacco sellers prevent them from buying cigarettes. As a result, they would stop smoking!” Is not levy-system easier? “Only for those who purposely smoke inside cafés! And they’ll have to pay 2,000 euros.

It is right the moment her father comes in. Claude Marie is angry at the new law, since he regards it as “a diktat imposed by non smokers, as stupid as former smokers’ diktat.” As a nursery auxiliary for social SAMU, he does not envisage bringing her daughter more often in cafés. “Based on my work experience, I know alcoholism is the real plague among the youth. So I don’t want Laura to take bad habits by frequenting such places,” Claude Marie says, before pointing out “the state, by struggling against cigarettes, is concentrating on the wrong fight.

To Laura, smoking and drinking are just about the same silly affair. “It is like bread and butter: it has to go altogether! It’s why I’ll never drink as well.” Dad can feel reassured.