Sunday, December 30, 2007

Party's over.....

This comes from Daily News

Smoking ban to hit French cafes

Sunday, December 30th 2007, 4:00 AM

PARIS - At Le Cerceau, a café in the heart of the garment district here, the coffee's strong, the cigarette smoke's thick - and the customers wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's a tradition," said Giorgio Marciano, 47, enjoying a midday smoke.

But Marciano and the 14 million other smokers in France will have to make do without their cherished clopes after Tuesday. That's when France becomes the latest country to ban smoking in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and the most hallowed spot of all - the café.

"It's the end of the French café, the end of the French bistro," said bartender Cyrille L'Hernete, who called the ban a good thing even though 80% of Le Cerceau's customers smoke.

"I have the right to have a coffee and smoke!" retorted an angry customer, who declined to give his name.

In an unexpected move in a country where lighting up is something of a national sport, most Paris restaurant and café owners are lining up behind the smoking ban, with some 800 establishments already smoke-free.

"More people will go to cafés because there's no smoke, no odor," said Philippe Rabes, manager of Le Nemours, a café across from the Louvre. He said he hasn't lost business since banning smoking 10 months ago.

His prediction is not echoed by industry groups, which contend it will drive bar tabac owners out of business. Some 10,000 tobacco sellers marched through Paris in November demanding exceptions to the law. They lost.

Authorities in France promise to "gradually" enforce the law, which will slap errant smokers with a $99 penalty and fine owners $197 per offense.


and this is from

Is cannabis legal in Holland?

Strictly speaking, no. Possession of small quantities is decriminalised, meaning it's a non-criminal offence like a parking ticket. In practice, even the law against selling cannabis is not enforced in Amsterdam.

What about this new law banning smoking in public places?

The Netherlands is following New York (formerly New Amsterdam, of course) in banning smoking in all places of work, including bars, restaurants and coffeeshops. The law is designed to protect workers from the effects of second-hand smoke and was not particularly aimed at coffeeshops but could have a drastic effect on them nevertheless.

From January 2004 it will be illegal to smoke cigarettes or joints in any enclosed public space, forcing smokers to indulge outside. Bars have negotiated an extension until 2005 but, after that time, although coffeeshops will still be able to sell cannabis, patrons will have to go outside to smoke it.

The Dutch are keen cigarette smokers and smoke everywhere. There are smoking areas on trains, for instance (there is, of course, a powerful anti-smoking lobby too). Smokers and bar owners tend to view the idea of a smoking ban as a bit of a joke. They don't believe it would be enforced but the law makers still seem determined and the current Dutch government would appreciate the side-effect on coffeeshops as a way of appeasing the French and American governments.

The latest situation is that no general smoking ban will be imposed on bars, cafes or restaurants until 2009. It is still not clear, however, whether the ban will apply to coffeeshops then or indeed whether it already applies to them, at least in principle, because they are not considered to be catering establishments. The good news is that, for the time being, you can still smoke in most coffeeshops in most cities.

Can one smoke anywhere in Amsterdam?

No. It's not that you're likely to get arrested, it's simply a matter of good manners. Some bars and hotels don't mind smoking pot but others detest it. If you want to know whether it's cool to smoke in a place, just ask politely.

Are all drugs acceptable?

The Netherlands is not the Wild West. On the contrary, it's exceptionally civilised with a sensible and constructive attitude to drugs. The use of cannabis is tolerated. The likes of cocaine and heroin are not. Having said that, ecstasy and even cocaine testing kits are available in the smartshops.

Never buy any drugs on the street. You *will* get ripped off. Stick to the coffeeshops and smartshops.

What is the minimum age to enter a coffeeshop?

The age limit for smoking and drinking is 18. If you look under 18 be sure to carry some ID as checks are common.

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