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Customers can continue to smoke in small bars, judges rule

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Efforts by anti-smoking campaigners to reinstate a smoking ban in small cafes and bars failed on Wednesday when judges in The Hague ruled the law does allow exceptions.

Anti-smoking group Clean Air Nederland took the Dutch state to court in an effort to enforce a ban on smoking in all bars and cafes.

One of the first acts of the current government in 2010 was to relax the ban so that bars smaller than 70m2 with no staff did not have to comply.


However, the ban, brought in over four years ago, is widely flouted in bigger bars, cafes and night clubs.

Clean Air Nederland argued the current situation has led to unfair competition with bars which do keep the law. In addition, 'the state is breaking international agreements to discourage smoking' and undermining existing Dutch laws, the organisation said.

The court in The Hague said current tobacco laws do allow exemptions to the ban. In addition, the judges said claims that the relaxation of the rules conflicted with the Dutch constitution were not proven.

'The exemption for small bars has led to smoking in around half of all cafes,' Clean Air Nederland said in a reaction. 'This not only damages the health of other patrons but of a lot of workers.'

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Seems fair to me considering that alcohol kills as much as tobacco (and more than cannabis by the way).

By Philippe | 16 May 2012 2:15 PM

"the state is breaking international agreements to discourage smoking".
There is a big difference between discouraging smoking & banning it!

By Donaugh | 16 May 2012 2:19 PM

It would make economic sense for the same to apply in the U.K. There would be an economic recovery if the 12 million U.K. smokers who have deserted the bars, were allowed by Law to have a cigarette with their pint.

By Jane | 16 May 2012 3:44 PM

Why can't the Nederlands government realizes this is effecting the health of many other passive smokers which in the end will cause more unnecessary spending on the national health care?? I don't think this is too difficult to understand.

By Kosasih | 16 May 2012 3:58 PM

I don't smoke, but this is an issue of bars with no staff (i.e. the owner only). I thought the law was made to allow staff to be in a smoke-free environment. So this makes sense. Customers are free to go to other bars, staff has some more problems in giving up their job (especially these days)...

By the_expat | 16 May 2012 4:02 PM

Clean Air Nederland said in a reaction. 'This not only damages the health of other patrons but of a lot of workers.'

If the other patrons and staff feel their health is at risk, they know where the door is!! Why don't the non smokers sit outside in the rain and cold for a change?
why is it always the smokers who must take all this abuse and discrimination?

By G-dogg | 16 May 2012 4:34 PM

The smoking ban has been in effect for several years. now it's falling apart. Same should happen to the Cannabis coffeeshop rules. Exceptions to the rules.

By jeanette | 16 May 2012 6:54 PM

As a non smoker in the U.K, I am disappointed that like here the non smoking rule in NL is not striktly adheared to, passive smoking does affect non smokers as well, if anyone smokes in a pub in the UK he is fined and so is the owner of the pub, the pub might be forced to close down.

By AlMorr | 16 May 2012 8:15 PM

@G-dogg: because smoking is an activity that produces extreme harm to other "innocent bystanders". People who drink a lot can have attitude and behave badly, but I'm not getting my liver damaged by sitting next to a person drinking 10 beers in one night. Same can't be said of a teenager working for pocket money during summer college break in a filthy smoke-ridden bar.

By Andre L. | 16 May 2012 8:54 PM

if none smokers choose to go in a smoking bar then its their personal choice,plus i dont believe the pasive smoking arguement,after 50 plus years of the affects of smoking from every nation in the world i find it very strange that they all jumped on the passive smoking bandwagon at the same moment in time???coincidence i dont think so,government scaremongering i think so,,

By Robert Wilkinson | 16 May 2012 9:38 PM

in owner operated bars only the owner suffers, as long as employees are protected. great

the comment about non-smokers sitting in the rain is plain rude, 2nd and 3rd hand smoke can be as deadly as if you smoke, Most of the world is slowly going smoke free, NL is progressive in many ways, Smoking is the exception

By justin | 17 May 2012 3:22 AM

Because your filthy habit is not only damaging your health, but also anyone near you. If you want to slowly kill yourself then I have no issue with it, off you go. But don't share your cancer with the rest of us that are out socializing.

By Andrew | 17 May 2012 6:35 AM

I'm disappointed to hear this. Too many people in the NL smoke in my opinion.

By Stupid | 17 May 2012 10:57 AM

Customers can continue to smoke in small bars, judge’s rule. Again the hypocrisy of your Dutch legal system. Smocking courses cancer, tourist, passersby all exposed to smock which is dangerous to their health, can elephants fly or what about European law?? legalization of drugs is also no problem. To ban “The Pirates Bay” where people can in digital form exchange what is otherwise normal is no problem, it’s not harmful to your health. Should we ban the Dutch copying Swiss cheese and such?

By Terence Hale | 17 May 2012 1:07 PM

Almost 90% of bars, and 100% of other venues (nightclubs, music venues, comedy clubs, etc) are smoke free, and it's still not enough for the antismoking fascists who want zero smoking even in places they'd never dream of setting foot in. Go to a smoke free bar! It's so simple. There's a bar for everyone, whether your favourite sin is alcohol, cannabis, or tobacco: it wouldn't do for us all to be the same.

Not that it matters, I'm a non-smoker, but I wouldn't seek to control the lives of others who aren't causing harm (and they don't harm me because I avoid smokers' bars!)

By osita | 17 May 2012 1:37 PM

Good! Yet Still the ugly anti-tobacco (probably paid) activists fallaciously maintain that SHS is harming them DESPITE the overwhelming evidence that proves them wrong. Tobacco smoke does have an aroma that some like and some dislike, BUT it does NOT harm anyone!

By Kin_Free | 17 May 2012 2:30 PM

In the UK, 30 years ago 80% of people smoked, cancer rates were low! Today cancer rates are higher than 30 years ago, yet in UK only 23% of people smoke, so one can only surmise that what ever is causing the increased cancer rates, it IS NOT smoking!

By lfb_uk | 17 May 2012 2:36 PM

Ahh commonnn. Then simply close all tobaco factories, forbid 3 cars per family, stop all factories having any smoke going out. Non smokers and their health, and most have BMI issues. And I was always wondering what is so attractive in smokers that non smokers always want to be near by?

By smoker | 17 May 2012 3:08 PM

@PhilSeems fair to me considering that alcohol kills as much as tobacco (and more than cannabis by the way)Incorrect-Cannabis has never killed 1 human being in the history of our planet.

By Tours | 17 May 2012 6:37 PM

I don't smoke and I really hate going into a cafe or bar and its full of smoke. I come home stinking like an ashtray. Why can't I sit in a cafe or bar and not inhale someone's dirty smoke which is causing me to have asthma attacks more. I grew up in a smoking household and hated it especially in a confined area. When I have children and want to sit inside a cafe and have lunch or drink I won't be able to because of environment. If these selfish people want to smoke themselves to death give them a smoking booth like at Schiphol. Problem solved!

By LM | 17 May 2012 8:29 PM

there should be a choice and a sign at point of entry stating this is a smoking bar come in at your own choice.. they do this in gay bars to warn straight people so why not smoking bars? smokers pay more tax on fags than anyone that is why the government are increasing things because people are giving up smoking!! what they gonna tax next to make up the shortfall? to many pubs are closing because of the smoking ban!!

By michael kane | 17 May 2012 9:04 PM

I can't believe so much time and money is wasted in the Netherlands endlessly discussing rules like school girls in a playground. There seems to be a serious lack of leadership and a serious lack of management and implementation in so many areas. Where is the clear thinking, leadership giving clear and unambiguous laws and then enforcing them? The pace of change in the world has increased and is increasing. The highly inefficient consensus model that slowly morphes rather than leaps is not what the Netherlands needs to compete internationally in the future.

By Confused | 18 May 2012 5:48 AM

I don't smoke but I am glad the smoking ban failed.

People should be able to live without constant attack on there privacy and freedom, businesses will allow or ban smoking according to there customers demands.

By Phil | 18 May 2012 6:00 AM

The 'passive smoking' myth has long ago been consigned comprehensively to history's Dustbin of Junk Science. Study after study (including one major one funded by the WHO) has shown it to a groupthink fantasy started by George "Foster the Impression" Godber in the 70s.

In a hospitality business, it should be up to the proprietor to decide whether smoking is allowed on the premises. This will be a business decision; if his customers want to smoke, he will allow it or he will lose them. If they don't, he will ban it. End of story.

By BriarTuck | 18 May 2012 8:16 AM

Intolerant non-smokers should go to bars that encourage non smoking.

Smokers should be more conscious about their habit and the surroundings (e.g. do not smoke next to parents with kids).

Banning anything is never efficient.

By madjestic | 18 May 2012 10:10 AM

im a smoker but dont smoke around non smokers out of courtesy,but look at stats less people in the world smoke but lung cancer numbers are higher in proportion now than 20 years ago when a hell of a lot more people smoked how about pollution as a factor or enviroment we live in, my mother never smoked noone in my house or her work smoked she died of lung cancer unrelated to smoking.

By simon | 18 May 2012 10:54 AM

Amazing how addicts bend over backwards to justify their habit, their rudeness, their selfishness and bang on about their "rights" not giving a crap about anyone else's.

Grow up, the lot of you. You sound immature and desperate.

By CW | 18 May 2012 4:26 PM

@Phil: "People should be able to live without constant attack on there[sic] privacy and freedom..."

But only Dutch people, right Phil?

By Stupid | 18 May 2012 5:53 PM

The smoking ban is there because of one reason: Everybody has the right to work at a smoke free place. That is why these small pubs with only the owner working are exempt of this rule. After all there are no employees. There is nothing difficult to understand about this, nor is there any hypocrisy in this law.

By pepe | 18 May 2012 10:20 PM

Disgraceful! Once again laws are being disregarded and people's health put at risk all because of a lack of guts on the part of judges. This really makes the Netherlands look like a Third World country, still protecting smokers, a minority, and letting them have their way to poison and contaminate others.

By John Toutemonde | 19 May 2012 5:03 PM

Here in Australia there is no smoking in any public area including shopping centres, any workplace, cafes,bars,clubs etc. and it has been that way for many years. Everyone seems to have coped! Most pubs and clubs have an undercover outside area where smokers can go and the weather here can be just as cold in winter as in Holland. It has been -1 at night this week. For both smokers and no smokers the argument seems to be long gone.

By Marianne | 19 May 2012 9:42 PM

Here in Australia there is no smoking in any public area including shopping centres, any workplace, cafes,bars,clubs etc. and it has been that way for many years. Everyone seems to have coped! Most pubs and clubs have an undercover outside area where smokers can go and the weather here can be just as cold in winter as in Holland. It has been -1 at night this week. For both smokers and no smokers the argument seems to be long gone.

By Marianne | 19 May 2012 9:42 PM

@ Andre L., it´s kind of funny that alot of people say that smoking causes harm to non smokers. Actually if you try to proven evidence that passive smoking has caused as much as a cold in anybody you´ll be doing fine. In the more than 30 years that they´ve been trying to prove it, with modern technology, they have not been able to definetely prove that any illnes has been caused by passive smoking. It´s a lame allegation with no forensic justification.

By Doug | 20 May 2012 12:26 PM

@BriarTuck: Spot on.
Any bar of any size can ban smoking if they want. Let the market decide.

By computerman | 21 May 2012 6:51 AM

Coming from Holland I know for a fact that clean air is lying its ass of and to make it worse : They have a list made by anonymous callers about hospitality ventures where people smoke and they put it on the internet . With allegations that are for half of the hospitality ventures not true at all Oh brave new world !

By Viperpilot | 12 February 2013 11:31 PM

The best choice, I think, is to give out licences of smoking bars if they fulfill requirments like 2 completely separated areas for smokers and non-smokers, good ventilation, higher sallaries for employees working in smoking area etc. In that way everyone can choose smoking or non-smoking area. But it should not be allowed to smoke in every bar.

By Ignas | 15 March 2013 8:20 PM

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