Appeal court overturns smoking ban (update)

Small cafes without staff do not have to comply with the ban on smoking, the appeal court in Den Bosch ruled on Tuesday.

The court said there are ‘no clear legal grounds for introducing and upholding such a ban in small cafes and bars,’ the Telegraaf reported on its website.
That means the tobacco law which came into effect in July 2008 does not apply to small cafes without employees, the paper quoted the court as saying .
A lower court had ruled the current legislation discriminates against cafes which do not have staff.
The case had been brought against cafe Victoria in Breda which is a one-man operated business. The cafe faced a fine of €1,200 and closure of a month for persistently allowing smoking on the premises.
However, in a similar case involving Groningen cafe De Kachel, the court found in favour of the public prosecution department. That case comes to appeal at the end of this month.
The department said immediately it would appeal against the Victoria cafe ruling.
The ban on smoking was introduced to protect staff from the effect of passive smoking. Bigger bars are free to set up smoking areas, as long as drinks are not served in them.
But small bars without staff argue that they should not have to comply because they have no staff to protect.
MPs are to hold an emergency debate later this week on today’s ruling which the Telegraaf says puts a bomb under the smoking ban.
And the Financieele Dagblad reports that small cafe owners are planning to bring back their ashtrays en masse. ‘It will be anarchy,’ Jaap Brandligt of the ‘save the small cafe’ lobby group told the paper.
In order to enforce a ban on small cafes, ministers will have to amend the law, Brandligt said. ‘It will take a year before that happens and then it will almost be the next election. I don’t think politicians will do that.’

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