is this legal?

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Many smoking bans abound in public places. However, are these prohibitions really legal? We did our little investigation and here’s what it says.

Laws that evolve

The reform of January 10, 1991 (Evin law) raised a debate in 2006. It emerged that in French law, no law provided for the prohibition of smoking in open public spaces, with the exception of station platforms and high school, college and school courses.

However, since 2006, local directives have come to thwart the right of smokers in open public spaces. Indeed, in the absence of laws, it is then the municipalities which may or may not impose a restriction on smoking in so-called open places. Consequently, from one city to another, the bans may change.

Random bans depending on the city

You will understand, depending on the city you are in, you may or may not be able to smoke your cigarette in a park. For example, since 2018, if you are from Strasbourg or just passing through, you are not allowed to smoke in the city’s parks and gardens, even with a pocket ashtray. Since June 2019, Paris has banned smokers in no less than 52 gardens. Lyon has been groping it since 2020 by banning smoking in only one park on an experimental basis, and this over 3 years. In Marseille, 3 of the 20 beaches are prohibited for smokers.

Any breach of these rules is punishable by fine. The legality of these orders is tendentious, but legal despite everything.

Sanctions at the discretion of the municipalities

Normally, smoking bans in parks or beaches must be posted in the public place concerned. Some town halls also mention this information on their website. However, it can happen that tourists are not aware of these prohibitions for various reasons. How to differentiate a distracted person from a recalcitrant and recidivist citizen? This question sometimes generates inequalities.

Inequalities which are also visible on the sanctions: a simple warning in Lyon against a 38 euros fine in Paris …

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