• Outdoors Outdoors

Lawmakers just passed a new law banning smoking in the woods — here's how it prevents a major safety risk

Just last year, nearly 278 square miles of France burned.

France is banning smoking in and around forests

Photo Credit: iStock

On May 17, lawmakers in France voted to pass a law banning smoking in and around forests during periods of elevated wildfire risk.

In what turned out to be an incredibly decisive 197-0 vote, France's National Assembly agreed that lighting up in the woods when conditions are hot and dry is a terrible idea.

This smoking ban will amend a current French law prohibiting the creation of fires within roughly 650 feet of a forest. Once the new law is officially adopted, French forests will be better protected against people who might've accidentally lit their local woods on fire.

The law is desperately needed, as nearly nine in 10 forest fires in the country are a result of human activity. The flicking of cigarette butts is a clear example of a common activity that can easily result in a fire.

Before the passage of the ban, local authorities could impose smoking bans when fire risk was high, but that was generally doable only during the summer months. Now, the legislation has made it easier to prohibit smoking near forests.

Looking forward

As the world continues to overheat thanks to the burning of dirty energy sources, fire season across Europe (and the globe) has unfortunately expanded

France could normally expect some forest blazes during its summer months, but now, because of warmer and drier weather, the fire season has lengthened. Just last year, nearly 278 square miles of France burned as the nation started to come to grips with existing in a warmer climate.

The situation is especially exacerbated by drought in southern France. The trend of a longer fire season is likely to continue as Mediterranean countries see more warming when compared to the Earth's average.

The amendment will help protect woodlands that are increasingly vulnerable to wildfires and underscores that real legislative action can be taken to protect nature. 

The French National Assembly and Senators are now finalizing the law and working to translate the text of the amendment into clear language for the public.

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