France Bans Smoking in Forests
French lawmakers have voted to ban smoking in forests during the fire season, reports AP.
The National Assembly voted 197-0 in a first reading on May 17 of a proposed law to better prevent and tackle forest fires. The draft has already passed through the Senate.
The smoking ban builds on an existing forest law that already bans the lighting of fires within 200 meters of wooded areas. It aims to reduce the risk of fires started by discarded cigarettes—a frequent cause of blazes, especially when woodlands are tinder-dry.
Forest fires have long regularly afflicted France, one of the most wooded countries in Europe. But they generally used to start later in the year. Major wildfires in Europe are now starting earlier, becoming more frequent and harder to stop, and doing more damage. Scientists say they’ll likely get worse as climate change intensifies. The Mediterranean region is warming faster than the global average.
The government says human activity is by far the most frequent trigger of forest fires in France, responsible for 90 percent of blazes.