ban on smoking in car

The French government is to consider banning smoking in cars when children are present and is also debating banning smoking in play areas in public parks.

The proposed law has been put forward by socialist senator Yannik Vaugrenard who is backed by anti smoking groups who successfully lobbied for a ban on smoking in enclosed public places in 2006.

The initiative follows a recent study published in the Tobacco Control Journal which says that smoking in cars exposes passengers to three time the toxin levels considered safe by the World Health Organisation and that opening the car windows makes no difference.

Anti-smoking group Droits des non-fumeurs admits a ban may prove difficult to enforce and recommends a publicity campaign to remind parents of the dangers.

CAF cuts

The French government is taking a leaf out of David Cameron's book and looking to cut child benefits in order to reduce the welfare deficit.

The CAF (Caisses d'Allocations Familiales) needs to make €2.2billion worth of saving to balance its books and the shortfall is expected to rise to some €1.7 over the next three years.

free contraception for under 18s

Abortion and contraception for minors are to be free from the end of this month. 
Health minister Marisol Touraine last week announced that abortion will be 100% reimbursed for all women from March 31 and contraception free for girls aged between 15 and 18.

French baby wipes warning

The French consumers' organisation 60 Millions de Consommateurs has issued a list of baby wipes that it advises parents to avoid using.

These are wipes containing the chemical phenoxyethanol which could be dangerous to children under three years old.

Pros and cons of a French education

Expat parents bringing up children in France are pretty united in what they like and dislike about the French education system. Discipline and cantine lunches rate high in our estimation but the rigidity of the curriculum, lack of parent-teacher communication, provision for special needs children and arts subjects are areas we would like to see improved, according to a survey by English tutorials provider Blackhen Education. 

Summer holiday confusion continues

Government plans to shorten the long summer holidays have been thrown into confusion since Education Minister Vincent Peillon  (pictured) announced on television that he wants to move from a 36 week to a 38 week school year only for the Prime Minister's office to claim that this 'was not on the timetable'.

Peillon, who believes that six weeks is long enough for a summer holiday, wants to move towards a cycle of seven week terms broken by two week holidays. He also supports the zoning of the summer holidays by region - as is already the case for other school holidays.

His priority, however, is to lengthen the school week, a move broadly supported by teachers and parents but opposed by teaching unions.

Read more on this subject here
and here