Thursday 17 October 2019

Smokers put out by court ruling banning ‘smoking rooms’ in bars

Litter from smokers outside a bar      Photo: DutchNews.nl

Smoking rooms in pubs and restaurants have been definitively banned in a supreme court ruling.

Although smoking was banned in eating and drinking establishments in the Netherlands in 2008, an exception had been made for small smoking rooms.

But the organisation Clean Air Nederland (CAN), which opposes smoking in public space, took the government to court, arguing that this was breaking the terms of an agreement with the World Health Organisation.

Appeal court judges ruled that cafes and bars should close their smoking rooms in February and this judgement has now been upheld immediately in the Netherlands’ highest court.

Faced with fierce opposition from the hospitality industry, junior health minister Paul Blokhuis had talked about a two-year grace period earlier this year, but now aims to meet with representatives in October to give ‘as much clarity as possible on the consequences of the judgement,’ according to the NOS broadcaster.

CAN is reportedly pleased with the verdict. ‘A smoking space promotes smoking culture, and this is precisely what we do not want with the younger generation in mind,’ it said in a statement to the NOS.

But hospitality industry group KHN – which has threatened a multi-million euro damages claim against the government – described it as a ‘slap in the face for hospitality owners’ and said it will affect 7,000 spaces.

It suggested that smokers will simply smoke outside on the street, creating noise and potential nuisance there.

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