Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Fog 31° Fog
News >  Nation/World

Smokers in Italy take last puffs in most public places


A woman lights a cigarette in a bar in downtown Rome on Sunday. Smokers in Italy took their last puffs in smoky bars and trattorias Sunday before the start of one of Europe's toughest laws against smoking in public places.  
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
A woman lights a cigarette in a bar in downtown Rome on Sunday. Smokers in Italy took their last puffs in smoky bars and trattorias Sunday before the start of one of Europe's toughest laws against smoking in public places. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Frances D'Emilio Associated Press

ROME – Smokers in Italy took their last puffs in smoky bars and trattorias Sunday, hours before the start of one of Europe’s toughest laws against smoking in public places.

The outdoors, private homes, and restaurants and bars with ventilated smoking rooms are the only places spared from the anti-smoking law. Enforcement begins at 12:01 a.m. today, when many bars and clubs still will be serving customers.

In a restaurant near Viterbo, north of Rome, a dozen cigar aficionados reserved a table for a kind of farewell dinner, promising to puff away on Tuscan and Cuban cigars between courses before the clock struck midnight, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

“In the end, we’ll get used to not smoking in restaurants or bars just like we’ve already had to do, for example, in trains and planes,” said Francesca Cola, 38, smoking a cigarette as she sat outside a cafe in Rome.

Her annoyance, however, was plain.

“I think this is excessive zeal against smokers. It’s a witch hunt,” she said, adding a pledge to throw more dinner parties and eat out less frequently.

The law, which was championed by Health Minister Girolamo Sirchia, a physician, bans smoking on public transportation and in hospitals, cinemas and schools.

Smokers will face fines from $36 to $363 if caught lighting up where they should not – including offices. Owners of premises who turn an eye to smoking face fines as high as $2,904.

In a country where restaurant diners rarely ask if drifting smoke is bothersome to others and doctors and visitors puff away in hospital corridors, about 26 percent of people smoke, according to Health Ministry figures.

About 10 percent of Italian restaurants have separate smoking areas, according to restaurant lobbyists.

Bars and restaurants have lobbied for more time to prepare no-smoking zones, but they were refused. The law, approved in 2003, was to have taken effect in December, but an extension was granted through the holiday period.

An editorial cartoon on Sunday’s front page of the Turin daily La Stampa showed a prisoner about to be executed asking, “Can I smoke a last cigarette?” A soldier replies: “No. It could be bad for your health.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.