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Smoking is back on the political agenda, as MPs back total cafe ban

Sunday 27 January 2013

Smoking is back on the political agenda in the Netherlands, now opposition party ChristenUnie plans to make a new effort to have smoking banned in all cafes and bars.

The Netherlands banned smoking in cafes, bars and clubs in 2008, but since then small bars have been made exempt from the rules. And according to health ministry research, the ban is widely flouted, with smoking accepted in 43% of the country’s bars and 39% of discos.

Now ChristenUnie plans to try to have the blanket ban re-imposed, the Telegraaf reported on Saturday. ‘Turning a blind eye to smoking in small cafes has had an enormous snowball effect,’ ChristenUnie MP Carla Dik-Faber told the paper.


The paper says a slim majority of MPs support a total ban on smoking. The ruling VVD, Socialists, anti-Islam PVV and 50Plus oppose the move. Parliament is to discuss official policy on smoking at the end of February.

The exception for bars smaller than 70 square metres and with no employees was introduced following a high court ruling.

It said the smoking ban was introduced to protect staff, and therefore does not apply to cafes which have no employees. In addition, small bars do not have the space to set up special smoking areas, the court ruled.


On Friday it emerged the cabinet supports European plans to make tobacco companies place photographs aimed at scaring off smokers on all packets of cigarettes and tobacco.

However, VVD MP Arno Rutte told television current affairs show Nieuwsuur on Saturday that Dutch policy on smoking is nothing to do with Brussels.

‘Will we soon be putting photos of fat people on packets of butter or drunks on a bottle of wine?,’ he said. The proposal will cost the Netherlands money and jobs, he said.

The Dutch coalition government has agreed to put up the age at which youngsters can buy cigarettes from 16 to 18, partly at the instigation of cigarette companies themselves.

Earlier stories
More cafes observe smoking ban, but it is still far from total
Customers can continue to smoke in small bars, judges rule

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

"Will we soon be putting photos of fat people on packets of butter or drunks on a bottle of wine" - what a silly comment from A. Rutte. Smoking is bad no matter how much one smokes and inevitably leads to cancer and/or breathing problems. Butter and alchol is not bad it consumed reasonably. A totally wrong comparison...

By the_expat | 27 January 2013 11:31 AM

mr. rutte, If they put photos of politicians on ballot papers, would it stop people from voting?

By h | 27 January 2013 2:59 PM

If you want to successfully scare smokers, forget the exceptionally gory photos, just keep raising the tobacco price & call it tax, (Stealing.) :P

By The visitor | 27 January 2013 6:42 PM


Actually, it's spot on. Any amount of alcohol is already damaging to the brains (of course, barely, but 1 cigarette also hardly does anything). Unfortunately though, butter is a terrible example: he should've named snacks.

And of course: naming money and jobs is the wrong approach. My opinion and probably the correct approach is: smokers are people too, they don't deserve to be visually tortured. As much as I personally hate it when there's a smoker near (I can't stand the stench), they still deserve to enjoy what they like to do.

By Someone | 27 January 2013 7:48 PM

Mr. the_expat, when people eat butter they don't spill fat on me. When people drink in bars, they don't spill drink on me (usually). But when people smoke, they do blow the disgusting and smelly smoke from their cigarettes on my face. I don't care if you choose to smoke, but I would love to sit on a cafe outside on spring and be able to enjoy my meal without people blowing smoke on my face.
How would you feel if you were eating and I started farting on your face? That's what smokers do.

By Ivan | 27 January 2013 8:08 PM

Ugh. If you want to live in a nanny state, you can have my spot back in the states.

By expatrob | 27 January 2013 8:16 PM

There is a 'moderate' level of smoking which is 'safe'. Remember that your health risk from normal, everyday exposure to bus and car fumes are equivalent to that of someone who co-habits with a heavy smoker. One or two Cigarettes in a week will not make much difference for most of us. The issue is one of freedom.

By Dirk | 27 January 2013 8:25 PM

The reason for banning smoking would not be to protect the smoker, but to protect the majority who don't smoke from secondhand smoke. The includes other non-smoking customers and staff. Banning public alcohol or butter consumption are very poor comparisons.

By Peter | 27 January 2013 9:19 PM

Such ignorance.. Butter is healthy. Margarine is laden with chemicals. There are healthy fats you know.

By LJK | 27 January 2013 10:19 PM

Comparing drinking or overeating with smoking is not appropriate. I could live or work in close proximity to a very obese person and I wouldn't get heavier as a result of that. I also don't get drunk by standing next to a person who's drinking alcohol.

Many smokers are completely oblivious to the fact the smell and the fumes they exhale are not a natural part of life for those who don't.

By A.L. | 28 January 2013 3:18 AM

Tobacco should be like cannabis: legal to sell; legal to buy; legal to possess; taxed; and strictly illegal to burn in public.

By Puck | 28 January 2013 7:28 AM

A quick tip if you want smoking in your local bar - phone the police a few times to complain about the noise made by smokers outside the bar , after a couple of the times the police will inform the bar owner having smokers outside is bad for the neighbourhood & they will tell the owner to allow smoking inside - works every time :)

By DenHaag | 28 January 2013 8:29 AM

Dutch should also discover something that is called "ventilation". I am smoker and I cannot stand in a smoking dutch cafe more than 5 sec.

By m | 28 January 2013 11:49 AM

As a non-smoker of tobacco since age 16, I hate cigarette smoke in a public place. I am bummed I can rarely sit outdoors at a cafe anymore to enjoy a meal. But it's a reasonable compromise.

As a weed smoker, I despise the Christian Do-Gooder Parties trying to enforce their religion and various forms of their version of morality upon me. It is extremely hypocritical of them to condone alcohol, yet insist on their personal crusade against coffeeshops.

In short, if the Christian Parties are 'for it' -- then I am 'against it'.

By Kevin L. | 28 January 2013 12:28 PM

I hate to say this but there is no real proof that second hand smoke hurts anyone. The data has been faulty based upon the fact that the people providing it were really offended by the smell or stench as it is called,However there is no doubt that it affects the smoker. It should be up to the Cafe, bar or Restaurant Owners. Say what you want about second hand smoke, but these are facts and not mere speculation. Ignorance has caused the problem and voters not caring because of the smell. This is what caused the ban and shame on anyone for supporting this if they believe in freedom. This was the first step to banning other things.

By Bob | 28 January 2013 2:26 PM

Wow @Bob, I guess all of these well known and well supported international and national agencies are full of it and are lying with the only goal of harming the profits of tobacco companies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_smoking#Opinion_of_public_health_authorities

Or maybe not and passive smoking *is* indeed a health risk. But who knows, it's not like there's a strong common opinion among those agencies, am I right?

By Andrii | 28 January 2013 3:35 PM

Wow @Bob, I guess all of these well known and well supported international and national agencies are full of it and are lying with the only goal of harming the profits of tobacco companies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_smoking#Opinion_of_public_health_authorities

Or maybe not and passive smoking *is* indeed a health risk. But who knows, it's not like there's a strong common opinion among those agencies, am I right?

By Andrii | 28 January 2013 3:36 PM

Christianu nie has no mandate from the Dutch people to even be in government, yet here they popup again trying to restrict peoples human rights. When will they stop?!

By Sim Says | 28 January 2013 3:40 PM

@bob: FYI, there is plenty of medically documented proof that second hand smoke is harmful... you should make the effort to look up the research. In children, secondhand smoke causes: Ear infections, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath); respiratory infections (i.e., bronchitis, pneumonia); greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)... just to name just a few.

In children aged 18 months or younger, secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for—

an estimated 150,000–300,000 new cases of bronchitis and pneumonia annually, and
approximately 7,500–15,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States.4

By Quince | 28 January 2013 4:57 PM

Actually Bob does have a point - the largest study into passive smoking was I taken by the World Health Organization a few years ago - the study lasted for 7 years & found any like to cancer was statistically insignificant - at this point they decided not to publish the study

Saying that I can still fully understand why a non smoker would want to avoid a smoking area

By DenHaag | 28 January 2013 7:55 PM

Here in the UK where smokers are treated like social lepers, the focus has already shifted to alcohol, with the same drip drip of negative factoids. Give it ten years and alcohol will be under the counter. That is what happens when you allow the new Puritans to get a hold..so think carefully before you jump on the "ban em all" band wagon..your favourite vice will soon be in their sights...health facism is the same as any other fascism....it denies liberty!

By tom | 29 January 2013 12:22 AM

so strange,fascism is on the rise along with extreme religious fanaticism.the most cancerous of all is hypocrite human beings.mankind has lost sight of decency thanks to us led religous capitalism invasion.

By el lungo | 29 January 2013 9:44 AM

It's simple and to the point, ban smoking where food is being served indoor and especially outdoor sadly the Dutch are rude when it comes to caring about the health and air of others, I was just at Arches National Park and there was a dutch man smoking in my walking path in the most beautiful place on earth polluting my right to breath fresh air. Screw all the rude Dutch!!!!!!!

By Listen2me | 29 January 2013 10:15 AM

Ivan, you wrote, "I would love to sit on a cafe outside on spring and be able to enjoy my meal without people blowing smoke on my face."

I would suggest that you work to get rid of the smoking ban inside cafes then.

As for "all the agencies" agreeing on passive smoke, they do it for one reason, and one reason only: it's an effective propaganda tool for promoting bans that they believe will reduce smoking prevalence. It's a lie, and they know it's a lie, but they feel it's an effective lie.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

By Michael J. McFadden | 29 January 2013 10:21 AM

In case there's anyone in The Netherlands who has any doubts about just how much they've been lied to during this campaign against smoking, take a few minutes to look over "The Lies Behind The Smoking Bans" at


and see what you think. Please feel free to share any specific, substantive criticisms of anything there if you like. I promise I won't mind, and I'll try to stop back to respond.


By Michael J. McFadden | 31 January 2013 5:53 AM

I stood in a hospital ward in 1990 & watched my father die of cancer, it wasn't pretty. By the time it was diagnosed it was in his bones & virtually unstoppable. All we could do was watch.
I spent a week leaving work early & rushing to hospital to be with family, then getting home at 1 am, before heading back to work at 7 am.
If all of you want to poison yourselves then go ahead!

By Donaugh | 31 January 2013 8:46 PM

It makes little difference if it is proved that second hand smoke is harmful. It is air pollution pure and simple and I don't think that it should be inflicted on those who don't enjoy breathing other people's stinky smoke. Maybe I should fart in your face, that may not be harmful, but it sure is not pleasant.

By Evji108 | 1 February 2013 2:30 AM

As always the people who have a biased personal interest will dig up as much "evidence" as possible trying to support their view. Like most things in life I suspect the truth is in the middle ground. It's pretty obvious that inhaling smoke is bad but I believe you have the right on private premises if the owner allows it. It's only public places like libraries where it should be banned.

By johnthomas | 1 February 2013 2:59 AM

Sometimes I think I'm the only non-smoking freak who enjoys the smell of cigarettes. Although I still worry about health implications, and its influence on pregnancy and newborns.

By Michelangelo | 1 February 2013 9:43 AM

Here is a link to an article about the WHO study in 2010, which estimated that passive smoking kills 600'000 people a year around the world.


By Pious ex-smoker | 1 February 2013 10:10 AM

Hi MJM - this question is not related to smoking (I am an ex smoker and cannot stand to be near smoke nowadays) but, were you really commissioned by the Queen of England to conduct training workshops in Canada?

By Darren | 1 February 2013 10:13 AM

JohnThomas, if you followed my link you'd see that the "evidence" I offered were the very best flagship studies that the Antismokers use themselves. I didn't pick it: they did. And I showed how weak it was.

Darren, yes! :) It was back in the 1970s and while it's been lost to the sands of time I remember my parents being *extremely* impressed by it. Big royal seal on it and everything! My guess is that it's kind of standard, but it was still impressive.


By Michael J. McFadden | 3 February 2013 10:19 AM

So 57% of the bars--more than half--are nonsmoking and that's not enough for the antismokers? Are they 57% of the population? I seriously doubt it.

By chris | 13 February 2013 5:37 PM

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