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.