Smoking has been banned in the children’s playgrounds of a Paris park for a trial period of a year, in an initiative likely to be extended to other outdoor public spaces.
The measure was introduced during the weekend as part of a government-sponsored campaign to reduce the high number of smoking-related deaths in France.
It is similar to proposals to ban smoking in parks submitted to the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, by a health panel.
Mr Johnson has dismissed the suggestion by the London Health Commission, headed by Lord Darzi, as “bossy and nannying”.
However, the Paris authorities and the French health minister, Marisol Touraine, favour the gradual introduction of outdoor smoking bans, particularly in parks and other areas where children are exposed to smoke.
The three playgrounds of the Parc de Montsouris, in southern Paris, are the first public places in France where smoking outdoors is banned, although it has been ruled illegal in enclosed café terraces.
Those breaching the playground ban will be given formal warnings and fines will be introduced at a later stage, said a deputy mayor, Pénélope Komitès.
“For now, we’re focussing more on persuading people than on punishing them,” she said.
After the trial, the city authorities “will determine whether the measure should be made permanent and extended to other Paris parks,” Ms Komitès said.
She added that the health minister may ban smoking in other public spaces before the end of the trial. Ms Touraine has indicated that she sees the playground trial in Paris as a first step towards banning smoking in all public parks, on beaches and pavements outside schools.