The French smoke like chimneys, from pre-adolescents in cafes to decrepit nursing home residents (I can attest to both). A smoking ban for public places, including workplaces and schools, just went into effect in February. On that fateful day, I had an appointment at a publishing company in Paris. I took a minute to understand why I was given a bookmark in the lobby with a list of support resources for quitting smoking. The irate editor-in-chief told me that the smoking ban was the most despicable of hypocrisies. After our meeting, she stalked out with me to join the horde of employees smoking just outside the entrance. I imagine office productivity has plummeted.
An acquaintance told me a story about a French friend visiting Canada about ten years ago and remarking on all the prostitutes standing and smoking outside office buildings. The same misinterpretation wouldn't happen now, but I guess the crowds won't really hit the streets until the ban in restaurants and bars begins in 2008.