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For anyone with asthma or allergies, a trip to France in the past would quickly turn into a nightmare, with people smoking with impunity right in front of no-smoking signs everywhere from the airport to shopping centers to restaurants to hotels.
But there is good news! Public opinion is slowly evolving, with more and more people favoring an outright ban on smoking in public places. Recent legislation, which took effect February 1, 2007, bans smoking in public indoor spaces, punishable by fines up to 350 euros. According to the legislation, these public indoor spaces include shopping centers, airports, train stations, hospitals, schools and all workplaces. It also includes hotel common areas (such as lobbies).
Restaurants, bars and discotheques (even those inside hotels) have been required to enforce this law since January 1, 2008. Restaurants and bars in train stations, airports and shopping centers are required to enforce the ban, so these should be safe havens for non-smokers. Of course, time will tell if this ban will be enforced, or simply ignored as was the Loi Evin for well over a decade. In France, and In Paris specially, smoking inside restaurants is totally banned, so do not have worry about asking non-smoking zone inside, but, outside, on terrace, that is the place were all the smokers go, so, during beautiful days, you might have to remain inside.
Smoking appears to be condoned/permitted on the outside terraces/sidewalk seating of many establishments. Indoors the ban is enforced, except on railway station platforms where even the staff can be seen having a quick smoke during a train stop.
For hotels, it is now forbidden to smoke, even inside inidivual rooms, so there will be no problems in hotel, but be careful, if you have a front window with bars next by, you might suffer from it.