Cannes prohibits smoking on a beach, a ban it hopes to extend to several other beaches in the city. Beach-goers offer mixed reactions.
CANNES, FRANCE (JUNE 4, 2012) (BFMTV) - Cannes, in southern France has prohibited smoking on a beach in an attempt to literally give its beach-goers a breath of fresh air.
Cannes' city hall, in partnership with the League Against Cancer hopes to extend the ban to several other beaches in the city.
"We have decided to prohibit people from smoking on the rocks and two strips of this beach because the cigarette butts used to pollute this sector and at the same time, in partnership with the League against cancer, this adheres to public health principles. But we are not fundamentalists of this ban in Cannes, we are experimenting with caution," said David Lisnard, deputy mayor of Cannes.
A ban on smoking in most public places in France came into force in early 2007, followed by a ban on smoking in bars and cafes at the start of 2008, as part of government efforts to reduce smoking for health reasons.
Some beach-goers took up the change as a challenge.
"After the ban, maybe after all it would be an occasion to stop smoking altogether," said one smoker.
Some beach-goers said they would just go to the beach next door, while others welcomed the ban with relief.
"It's true that there are fewer cigarette butts on the ground, in the sand. For children it's a good thing," said one.
"I think it's very good, a no-smoking beach. It's perfect," said another.
The ban concerns only 840 metres of Cannes' 12 km coast and a breach would cost smokers a 38 euro fine.
The ban doesn't seem to have peeved a near-by shopkeeper, who said he hoped policemen would show some leniency but wasn't worried about a drop in cigarette sales.
"The advantage is that people can always climb the stairs and come up here to smoke. The pavement is still open to smokers, thankfully," he said.
For Maurice Schneider of the League Against Cancer, this smoking ban is a step towards championing a larger cause.
"This is a symbol of what we want to do, that the League wants to do. The League wants that in the next twenty years, half of the smoking population stops smoking," he said.