It’s pretty clear that for France’s Health Minister Marisol Touraine (Parti Socialiste) smoking is the country’s principal health problem.

It’s not enough that cigarette tax went up by 20 cents at the beginning of July, now she would like to ban smoking in the fresh airà la Michael Bloomberg.  On July 22, she said that she would like to see the pastime banned on beaches and in parks. Not only there, but on sidewalks in front of schools and university campuses. Touraine hopes to achieve this through ‘dialogue’ with local councils.

Last year, a few French resort cities — Cannes, Nice and Le Ciotat — designated one or two public beaches as non-smoking. Le Ciotat’s entire public beach is non-smoking. Therefore, we can see that no national measures are necessary.

However, the Conservative (UMP) Yves Bur — longtime French parliamentarian, ex-dental surgeon, head of the (government-funded) Alliance contre le tabac and the creator of France’s indoor smoking ban — says that Touraine’s solution is but a ‘mesurette‘. He would like to see the prohibition of smoking outdoors become national legislation. This does not surprise me in the slightest and, even when he was devising the indoor ban in 2005, I sensed it would not be enough for him. Bur also introduced legislation which removed vending machines from schools and upped the tax on alcopops. Think of the children!

On RMC-BFMTV on Monday, July 22, Bur said:

It’s a way of denormalising smoking everywhere. We must make parents understand that they mustn’t smoke in front of children, in the house, in schools, in public places, on beaches.

Later that morning, RMC’s Grandes Gueules and their listeners debated whether this was a health measure or an anti-litter one, because most anti-smokers who wrote or rang in complained of cigarette butts on beaches. The panel said, ‘But that’s a question of litter, not health. And there are already laws for that.’ It’s strange that anti-smoking beach lovers never complain about all the other trash — much more offensive — they see at the seaside: tampon applicators, used condoms, cans, bottles, food wrappers and much more.

I was interested to hear les GG take the smoking warnings so seriously. ‘Smoking kills,’ one said. ‘Indeed it does,’ responded another. ‘Just read the back of cigarette packets!’ What started out as ‘Smoking may be harmful to health’ became ‘Smoking kills’. Yet, a number of centenarians still smoke and some only stopped in their old age. Jeanne Calment, who held the title of world’s oldest woman for several years, only stopped smoking sometime over the age of 100 because she could no longer see well enough to strike a light.

Meanwhile, France has a chronic shortage of doctors in rural areas and they have little urgent weekend medical coverage elsewhere. But that seems much less urgent. I read in last week’s Marianne that Touraine is planning on closing a small ER in central Paris.

Furthermore, her department has set up state-sponsored shooting galleries for hard drug users. It seems heroin is all right, but tobacco is taboo.

As RMC listener linou77 commented, which was also brought up by a caller to les GG:

They allow prostitutes on the roadside, let kids smoke their joints openly, create special places for drug addicts, not to mention the alcoholics we see every day falling over in the street, but they’re making a moral message about smoking in public. Leave us alone!! Stop nannying us.

Indeed — oh, the irony! Also, what about encouraging children to have sex before they even understand what it is? What about youth crime which damages youngsters psychologically as well as physically? It is sad to read about young French girls being raped in public places; only last week a 13-year old was raped on a street in Marseille in broad daylight.

See my series of articles under ‘the bogus science behind Tobacco Control’ on smoking bans and the big lie about second hand smoke. Even first hand smoke is up for question. As for fertility? The postwar years had the greatest number of smokers and the greatest number of babies born in the Western world.  Not to mention that our life expectancy is the longest it’s ever been — long before smoking bans. Now, it seems, we can’t die quickly enough. The younger generation need our houses.

Oh, the irony.