On January 1, 2008 the no-smoking laws in France went into effect, which meant that Parisian nightclubs and bars had to figure out a way to make their nicotine-addicted clientele happy by either adding special fumoirs or putting up with the crowd standing outside the entrance. Non-smokers were happy to be able to go out and not smell like an ashtray afterwards, and smokers basically adapted. So the doomsayers predicting the end of Paris nightlife were wrong.
But now there’s another law that was signed last week banning “open bars” in the effort to curb binge drinking in teens and young adults. Open bars are typically the main draw for special soirées such as the After-Works and student parties. So there may be fewer of these soirées, but is that really a bad thing? Does French nightlife really need to embrace the “let’s go out and get hammered as fast and as cheaply as possible” mentality that exists in the US and UK?When I was a student in Paris 14 years ago, it was almost unheard of for the French students to get drunk (only we expat students, usually the Anglophone ones, held that dubious honor).
In any case, it seems like a better idea to limit unlimited drinking than to raise the drinking age to 21 (it’s currently 18 for hard liquor, 16 for beer and wine).
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