Already France’s 14 million smokers face big, bold-face new warnings that SMOKING KILLS and perhaps only slightly less worrisome to a Frenchman, can damage sperm, reduce ferulity and cause impotence. The tobacco industry is under attack all over Europe, where a million people are believed to die from tobacco – related illnesses each year. Ireland is set to ban smoking in public places – icluding pubs and restaurants. European Union Health Commissioner has promised legislation banning smoking in the workplace across the Continent.
In response French tabacconists have staged a series of increasingly radical protests, culminating on Oct. 20, which marked the latest tax increases, with the nation’s first “day without tabacco” demonstrations. Confederation leaders say Chirac’s war threatens 200,000 jobs in French tobacco fields and claim to have collected 4.3 million signatures protesting the new taxes. France first required small warning labels in 1991, but most smokers just ignored them, joking that France is nots Claifornia. In a sign of how much attitudes have changed, the French state lauched its first big lawsuit against the tobacco industry this summer, seeking more than €18.6 million in compensation for the cost of caring for alleged tobacco victims. The targets of the suit: Philip Moris, JTI Reynolds, Rothmans.