Health minister Ab Klink wants cabinet support for an investigation into ventilation systems which could end the legal impasse around smoking in small cafes.
The ban on smoking in all cafes and bars has been undermined by a string of court decisions stating it does not apply to cafes without staff.
The ban was introduced in July 2008 to protect bar workers against second-hand smoke. But many small cafes run by their owners refused to ban smoking, arguing they did not have enough room to build a separate smoking area.
The minister said two months ago he is to amend current legislation to close the loophole. But since the court cases, labour inspectors have stopped their checks on one-man operated cafes and bars.
Now the Telegraaf reports that Klink may be on the verge of making a gesture towards small cafes. A properly-working ventilation system would remove the need for a sealed-off smoking area, the paper says.
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