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Smoking Bans Get Tougher Around The World

Smoking Bans Get Tougher Around The World
Aurore Barlier

As the largest consumer of tobacco in the world, China stunned everybody when it started imposing a tough smoking ban in Beijing this month. This comes as new smoking bans are being inaugurated in several other countries, particularly in Europe. Some 90 countries around the world now have anti-smoking legislation that just a few years ago would have been considered very strict. Here's an update in the global battle to clear the air:

SOUTH KOREA

January 1 was the date of the beginning of the smoking ban in restaurants and public facilities in South Korea. People smoking traditional and electronic cigarettes in public areas now face a fine of 100,000 W ($90) as reports the South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo.

WALES

On June 3, Wales voted in a law preventing parents from smoking in cars carrying children. The smoking ban will take effect in October, and offenders will be fined £50 ($79). As part as its aggressive new public health policy, the Welsh government also plans to ban e-cigarettes from all public places, reports The Guardian.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Until now, the Czech Republic is the last European Union country to allow unrestricted smoking in restaurants. From January 2016 however, the government will ban smoking in restaurants and hotels, but also in concerts and indoor entertainment zones. The anti-smoking bill, which also bans cigarette sales in vending machines, was approved June 3 despite fierce opposition by restaurants and hotels operators who fear potential smoking customers will stay home, according to the Prague Daily Monitor. People who violate the new smoking restrictions will be fined up to 10,000 crowns, or around $415, five times the present rate.



FRANCE

After it passed a law forcing cigarette companies to use plain packaging, the French government has now also banned smoking in children playgrounds. France's Health Minister Marisol Touraine says it is a "common-sense measure" designed "to respect our children." Le Monde reports that anyone caught smoking in a playground will be fined 68 euros ($72), just as in other restrictive outdoor areas .

A playground in Parc de Saint-Cloud, near Paris â€" Photo: Copyleft/WikiCommons

CHINA

Since June 1, people face a relatively modest fine of $32 if they smoke in restaurants, offices or on public transport of the capital city of Beijing. But in addition to the dent in your wallet, offenders will be named and shamed on a governmental website. The move was welcomed by the World Health Organization representative in China, Dr. Bernhard Schwartländer who said in a statement: "Beijing has now set the bar very high â€" and we now look forward to other cities around China, and the world, following Beijing’s excellent example."

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Future

How Facebook's Metaverse Could Undermine Europe's Tech Industry

Mark Zuckerberg boasted that his U.S. tech giant will begin a hiring spree in Europe to build his massive "Metaverse." Touted as an opportunity for Europe, the plans could poach precious tech talent from European tech companies.

Carl-Johan Karlsson

PARIS — Facebook's decision to recruit 10,000 people across the European Union might be branded as a vote of confidence in the strength of Europe's tech industry. But some European companies, which are already struggling to fill highly-skilled roles such as software developers and data scientists, are worried that the tech giant might make it even harder to find the workers that power their businesses.


Facebook's new European staff will work as part of its so-called "metaverse," the company's ambitious plan to venture beyond its current core business of connected social apps.

Shortage of French developers

Since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his more maximalist vision of Facebook in July, the concept of the metaverse has quickly become a buzzword in technology and business circles. Essentially a sci-fi inspired augmented reality world, the metaverse will allow people to interact through hardware like augmented reality (AR) glasses that Zuckerberg believes will eventually be as ubiquitous as smartphones.

The ambition to build what promoters claim will be the successor to the mobile internet comes with a significant investment, including multiplying the 10% of the company's 60,000-strong workforce currently based in Europe. The move has been welcomed by some as a potential booster for the continent's tech market.

Eight out of 10 French software companies say they can't find enough workers.

"In a number of regions in Europe there are clusters of pioneering technology companies. A stronger representation of Facebook can support this trend," German business daily Handelsblatt notes.

And yet the enthusiasm isn't shared by everyone. In France, company leaders worry that Facebook's five-year recruiting plan will dilute an already limited talent pool, with eight out of 10 French software companies already having difficulties finding staff, daily Les Echos reports.

The profile of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg displayed on a smartphone

Cris Faga / ZUMA

Teleworking changes the math

There is currently a shortage of nearly 10,000 computer engineers in France, with developers being the most sought-after, according to a recent study by Numéum, the main employers' consortium of the country's digital sector.

Facebook has said its recruiters will target nations including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and Ireland, without mentioning specific numbers in any country. But the French software sector, which has so far managed to retain 59% of its workforce, fears that its highly skilled and relatively affordable young talent will be fertile recruiting grounds — especially since the pandemic has ushered in a new era of teleworking.

Facebook's plan to build its metaverse comes at a time when the nearly $1-trillion company faces its biggest scandal in years over damning internal documents leaked by a whistleblower, as well as mounting antitrust scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators. Still, as the sincerity of Zuckerberg's quest is underscored by news that the pivot might also come with a new company name, European software companies might want to start thinking about how to keep their talent in this universe.

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