France will bansmoking in many public locations in February, and will extend the prohibition to restaurants, clubs and bars in early 2008, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Sunday.
"I am convinced the French people are now ready," he told LCI television, addingthe move is a "public health necessity" because60,000 people in France die from smoking-related causeseach year and another 5,000 from second-hand smoke.
The government is preparing a decree that will forbid smoking in schools, train stations, airports, offices, public buildings and other enclosed public spaces on Feb. 1, the prime minister said.
The government will enforce it with fines of about $100 for individual violators and $200 for owners of buildings who allow smoking. France's health-care system will pay some of the costs incurred by those trying to quit.
Some opponents said the measure, which has been under discussion for more than a year, violates their freedom.
Other European countries, including Ireland, Spain, Britain and Italy,havealreadymoved against public smoking.