Cigarette dens and the underage sale of alcohol turn luster from some Christmas markets

Amid reports of cigarette dens and the underage sale of alcohol, open houses at once traditionally festive and warm-hearted open markets in Europe remain under close scrutiny.

Staff at the Etruscan Markets in Rome, which will be lit in bright Christmas lights this weekend, noted the tense atmosphere but said patrons were tolerant.

“We were all stunned when I heard the news about Cigarette dens and young people selling alcohol and things,” said Nicola Santa Cecilia, a worker in the informal market.

“We’re all so used to them here, and we think they work really well. We’re very disappointed, but it’s not going to change us. We’re all a little bit tired of talking about it.”

In another Catholic market, the Brixton market in England, where it was ice-skating last weekend, the influx of visitors who brought their children were subdued.

The Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham’s spokesperson, Father Paul Goupil, told the Catholic Herald: “The bishop and I are disappointed by the trend of undermining our Christmas markets, but we are vigilant and concerned about the proliferation of prostitutes and dubious operators. I hope they will be allowed in with a small police escort.”

In Germany, Mr. Goupil added: “We are giving strong warnings to local police and good advice to traders, and we hope the mayor will address the issue before this weekend. The atmosphere is very restrained. We will be open if there is no problem, and our traders will do the same.”

After the extension of the ban on tobacco advertisements to open markets, in Italy the authorities have placed specific controls on sellers of “especially dangerous products”, according to a report in Il Giornale.

In Rome, the Unfair Playing Field said it supported the move: “We regard these initiatives as appropriate: open markets are always subjects of criticism and would not be sanctioned if they weren’t.”

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