As with every anti-smoking measure, the Chicken Littles come out in force to announce the untimely death of a lifestyle or era. This time it is France’s turn: Will the smoking ban in France mean the end of café society? – International Herald Tribune.

What has inevitably happened in every case is that the Chicken Littles were proven wrong. Take Italy, for example, a country that successfully implemented major public anti-smoking measures in 2005 and, IMO, seems all the better for it. Although chain-smoking Italians could give their chain-smoking French counterparts an emphysemic run for their money, Italians seem to have survived their sweeping anti-smoking laws relatively unscathed.

While smoking is no longer allowed in public Italian bars, cafés, and restaurants, the customers have kept coming. And despite the French objections cited in the International Herald Tribune article, Italians have shown no signs of speeding up their leisurely meals, turning tables like American diners on the run. In fact, one of the things we most enjoyed about Italy during our last visit was the notion that a restaurant reservation is always about getting a table for the night — and not just until the next party chases you out with a clean tablecloth and a change of silverware.