While the ban on smoking in public spaces is commonplace in Europe, some countries still show signs of resistance. Until recently, the Nethernands was one of those countries, where smoking is permitted in a quarter of existing bars and restaurants. It seems the Hague tribunal has finally given into the pressure of anti-smoking activists.
Since February 13th, it is forbidden to smoke in all bars and restaurants in the Netherlands. Until recently, smoking was allowed in establishments smaller than 70 m², as long as you were seated in the smoking section. As of this year, this is completely illegal!
A decision that brings clarity to smoking laws in the Netherlands
The Netherlands was a signatory of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which came into force in 2005. However, the Netherlands remained relatively flexible when it came to rules and regulations, allowing for some elbow room in legal terms.
The tribunal had at the time determined that the state of the Netherlands was not entirely in agreement with the FCTC, despite having ratified the Convention. Since 2005, there had been no decisions to reevaluate the autorisation to smoke in smaller bars and restaurants. However, smoking rates rose from 9 % to 15 % between 2014 and 2015. Data which highlights the innefectiveness of existing anti-smoking measures on reducing smoking rates.
The Clean Air Nederland association therefore decided to take action by suing the state, in June 2016, on the basis that only a complete smoking ban would be in line with the international convention. This association actively militates to protect smokers. It is also concerned second-hand smoking health hazards. The decision was based on the fact that, in bars and restaurants, customers may be inconvenienced, or even, by other smokers nearby.
The Hague tribunal determined probable cause. So the association celebrated another victory in the fight against tobacco. Members hope that tobacco consumption rates, in particular in young populations, will be reduced in the coming years.