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As I mentioned yesterday, we were in Cannes for several days in June.

For my online and offline friends who enjoy the pleasures of tobacco and e-cigarettes, here are a few notes about Cannes and smoking in general in France, some of which you might already know.

Smoking prevalence is, from my unofficial observations, about 30%. Contrary to what a recent issue of Tatler in its special feature on the Côte d’Azur said, not ‘everyone smokes here’. That said, nonsmokers don’t freak out about it.

Cafés — including those offering light meals — always have ashtrays on the sidewalk tables. As a result, this is where many smokers come to congregate for breakfast and lunch. There are a number of good food-oriented cafés in the centre of town, especially on the eastern end of the Rue d’Antibes in the Banane district, where the artsy crowd gather.

Restaurant smoking has decreased considerably since 2011 and even more so than 2009. Four years ago, nearly every restaurant which had outdoor tables had — or gladly supplied — ashtrays from the stack near the front entrance. This year, very few restaurants with outdoor tables had ashtrays. Those which did had only one or two smoking tables. One restaurant — Maître Renard (Rue St Antoine, Le Suquet) — has an ashtray set discreetly behind a glorious floral bouquet at the entrance. This offers his patrons an opportunity for une pause between courses.

Hotels no longer have smoking rooms. This began changing in 2010. By 2011, nearly all hotels went non-smoking, even if their sites still say they offer them. Try reserving one and see if you are offered a smoking room. You will not. Therefore, smokers are strongly advised to book a room with a terrasse (balcony). You should also pack your own ashtray, which SpouseMouse did. Good thing, too, because it took our chambermaid two days to place one on our outdoor table. To keep things tidy, I took a few waste/sick bags from the flight in and put our dog ends in there. One bag will accommodate four or five days’ cigarette waste and, kept tightly sealed and out of the way, is a good solution which bothers no one. Our chambermaid complimented us on our cleanliness.

Public waste receptacles — at least along the Côte d’Azur — have separate features for smokers. This can be either a small ashtray attachment to the bin (Nice Airport) or a bit at the top of the bin with a place to stub your cigarette out (in the shape of of a cigarette, by the way) and holes through which you can drop your fag end. So convenient and aesthetically pleasing in the inimitable way only the French can accomplish. There are waste bins everywhere, so there is no excuse for not using them. There are also often benches or low walls nearby where one can sit and have a bit of a rest during sightseeing.

E-cigarettes are readily available, although I did not see them ‘on sale everywhere — even in pastry shops’ as I’ve heard on French radio. In Cannes, a shop called Mister Clope (clope is slang for cigarette) sells them. It is located at 5 Rue Marechal Joffre, which runs perpendicular to Rue d’Antibes. Mister Clope is located halfway between the railway station and La Croisette, the beachfront thoroughfare. There is another shop on Rue Meynadier on the left hand side as one walks westward towards Marché Forville and Le Suquet.

E-cigarette use in Cannes was nil, as far as I could see. Maybe people use them at work or whilst clubbing, I don’t know. In any event, Socialist health minister Marisol Touraine is declaring war on these devices which help some smokers transition away from tobacco. She wants to ban them in all public places; a discussion panel on RMC said that the goverment believes that people engaging in the act of smoking ‘sets a bad example for the French’. Hmm. Secular pietism at work.

Plenty of tabacs still exist in Cannes, despite the gradual decline along the Côte d’Azur. The increase in closures is not because people have stopped smoking but because of the steady, incremental increase in cigarette tax. Most Azuréens are now crossing the border into Italy to stock up. Buralistes (tobacconists) in towns close to the border — e.g. Menton — have seen a strong decline in business over the past three years for this reason. It has nothing to do with health.

Tobacco prices went up 20 – 30 cents at the beginning of July. However, when we were there in June, nearly all brands were €6.10 for a pack of 20. The most expensive — a luxury brand — was €6.60. Interested in seeing if there was any price difference at the airport, I compared England versus France. At the WH Smith in Heathrow’s Terminal 5, all packs — no economy brand on offer — were £9.90, no exceptions. By contrast, the cigarettes in the Relay shops at Nice Airport were priced the same as in the tabacs in Cannes.

Stocking up for the weekend. Saturdays see long lines outside tobacconists. However, the lines move quickly, so you won’t have to wait long to be served. A few neighbourhood tabacs close for the weekend; the one nearest our hotel did — so this is something to keep in mind for tourists who do not plan on going into town on Saturday (Sunday is largely out of the question). Buy during the week to avoid disappointment.

There are chicha bars — although smoking is only allowed outside. There was one in our neighbourhood, in fact, but SpouseMouse didn’t want to go. Maybe next time. One in the town centre is just off the Rue d’Antibes at a small Lebanese cafe and there are others dotted around Cannes. I did hear an Englishman express fear about chicha: ‘All that smoke!’ In reality, it is vapour!

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