Pubs complain German smoking ban hits trade

Several months into Germany’s decidedly half-hearted smoking ban in bars and restaurants, many small pub owners are reportedly suffering from a drastic decline in business.

Pubs complain German smoking ban hits trade
Photo: DPA

Eating and drinking establishments across Germany have seen a drop on average of 20 to 30 percent in turnover since the first of the year, the Friday edition of tabloid newspaper Bild reported. But owners of small, one-room pubs – unable to set up separate smoking room as required by the new law – have been particularly hard hit, according to a nationwide survey by restaurant industry associations and regional chambers of commerce.

Some corner pubs in Berlin have supposedly even seen sales plunge up to 70 percent. The daily Berliner Morgenpost paper reported on Friday that nearly two-thirds of the city’s 450 one-room waterholes could be forced to close due to declining trade from the smoking ban.

“The law threatens the existence of many,” Thomas Lengfelder from the Hotel and Restaurant Association told Berliner Morgenpost.

Oddly, Berlin has been particularly lax in enforcing the smoking ban and many people continue to light up unhindered in many of the German capital’s drinking establishments. But Lengfelder said he expected the mood of pub owners to worsen dramatically in July, when the authorities are supposed to start fining businesses for flouting the smoking ban.