Give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile. Although France’s smoking ban is less than one year old the nouveaux prohibitionists there are busy eyeing new terrain to conquer.
The first target is the venerable "happy hour" custom of promoting business during particular times of the day. Happy hour has been targeted for many years in the prudish United States for a multitude of supposed sins including drunk driving and the more ethereal impact on "health." France, however, is targeting "binge drinking" among young people. Logicians will note that "binge," hardly a word of precision, is defined by anti-booze activists to mean drinking more drinks in a given time frame than nannies deem prudent.
French regulators also find danger in the practice of bars selling small bottles of alcohol to patrons who then mix their own drinks at the table with a group of friends. Such a custom, nearly unknown in the United States, has been going on in France without wreaking havoc on society until now. Raising age requirements and cracking down on "drinking games" are also in the mix of controls proposed.
As always the hospitality industry is protesting increasing regulations on business and as always the proprietors’ objections will be discarded. The French governing class, unable or unwilling to fix actual problems, has discovered the joys of fixing the working class’s behavior. Unless the prohibitionists’ schemes, including smoking bans, are thwarted by the people, the list of restrictions and regulations on individual behavior will explode.