RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Eleanor Beardsley reports.
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ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: At Le Defoe Cafe(ph) in the tiny burgundy village of Venire le Lome(ph), a handful of costumers stands at the bar and sit at tables conversing over coffee or a beer. Nearly, every hand is holding a cigarette. Waffs of smoke float above their heads. Here, like in many small provincial towns, the local cafe is the heart of the community, the glue that holds it together, says costumer Maurice Sedoune(ph). Sedoune says he is afraid the smoking ban will change all that.
MAURICE SEDOUNE: (Through translator) Tabac is like a club. We are happy to be there after work. That's important, especially here in the countryside. If they take this away with all their laws, what will be left in life?
BEARDSLEY: The depot is also one of the France's 31,000 tabac. Tabacs or tobacco bars are the only place in France where cigarettes are sold. Even people who supported the smoking ban say that tabacs should have been exempted. The depot's owner, Jean Michel(ph) and Corinne Schneider(ph), live above their cafe. The Schneider say 90 percent of their clientele are smokers and may not linger here as before. They worry whether they'll be able to make ends meet after the ban goes into effect.
CORINNE SCHNEIDER: (French spoken)
BEARDSLEY: That kind of thinking is rubbish. Says Beloun Jei(ph), owner Lucdecano(ph), a cafe bar in Paris's (unintelligible).
BELOUN JEI: (Through translator) When actors and news anchors quit smoking on the air, people said television wouldn't be the same. And now they are saying the same thing about cafes. But French cafe culture will still exist just under different conditions.
BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.
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