The catering trade association and health minister Ab Klink are to meet on Wednesday to discuss the growing chaos surrounding the smoking ban in cafes and bars.
Hundreds of cafes are now ignoring the ban which was introduced on July 1 and the catering sector association Horeca Nederland wants the minister to get tough on what is says is unfair competition for establishments that are obeying the law.
‘The protest is widening like an oil spill and the situation is becoming untenable,’ the association’s director Lodewijk van der Grinten told news agency ANP. A month ago, Horeca Nederland estimated 15% of bars and cafes were defying the ban.
Ignoring the ban
Groups of cafe owners in cities such as Groningen, Tilburg and Breda have already agreed informally to ignore the ban. And this weekend, Den Bosch was added to the list.
‘My customers were going to a cafe up the road where they could smoke,’ Raymond van der Werff, owner of the Stadscafe d’n Burger in Den Bosch, told the NRC. If smoking was still banned in his bar, he would have just 12 customers, not 60, and he would have been forced to close down, Van der Werff told the paper.
Research last month showed that the turnover in small bars and cafes has fallen 30% since the ban was introduced and that one in five establishments are thinking of sacking staff.
Last week the conference of the ruling Christian Democrat party rejected calls to exempt small cafes from the ban – which is what Belgium and Germany do.
Some 500 fines have been handed out since the total ban on smoking was introduced in the Netherlands.
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