France — The days of cigarette-friendly France are about to go up in smoke.
The prime minister announced Sunday that a ban on smoking in schools, offices and other public buildings will start in February, while restaurants, dance clubs and some bars have until 2008 to comply.
"I am convinced the French people are now ready," said Dominique de Villepin, joining Ireland, Spain, Britain and Italy, which have adopted similar measures. "The issue is ripe in our country, given the experiences that we know of elsewhere."
Villepin told LCI television the ban will be ordered "by decree" in the next few days - a step that allows the government to avert an explosive parliamentary debate ahead of presidential and legislative elections next year.