• Germany's news in English

German high court overturns smoking ban

The Local · 30 Jul 2008, 11:46

Published: 30 Jul 2008 11:46 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The decision involved a case brought by bar owners in Berlin and Tübingen, and a club owner in Heilbronn, who contended that small establishments should be exempt from the ban because they don't have the possibility to create a separate smoking area.

Owner of tiny Berlin bar "Doors," Sylvia Thimm, was one of the bar owners involved in the case and says she is planning a big smoking party at her establishment Wednesday evening to celebrate her success, she told Berlin daily Berliner Morgenpost on Wednesday.

"Had there been a nationwide, general smoking ban in restaurants and bars, then I would have gone along with it because there wouldn't have been the same distortion of competition that the separate smoking room option created," she told the paper.

The ban was implemented on January 1, 2008 - though it was not enforced until July 1. Many German bar owners have openly flouted the law, complaining that it could threaten their livelihoods as revenues suffered. Several states have also reported half-hearted or non-existent enforcement by city officials.

The decision from the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe states that current smoking ban rules are to remain in effect until the end of 2009, when new legislation will have to be drawn up. But the six to two ruling said the ban was "an especially heavy burden" and "unacceptable" for small bars and infringes on the freedom to carry out one's profession because of the high proportion of smoking customers, the court said.

The ruling stated that bars allowed to let customers smoke again must be smaller than 75 square-metres and will have to visibly identify their business as a smoking establishment. Such bars will not be allowed to serve food and will have to deny entry to customers younger than 18-years-old.

Corner pubs that rely heavily on a drinking clientele and can prove "existential disadvantages" are also eligible for the exception to the law, the court said.

Other suits against the smoking ban await lower court rulings in several states, and judges in Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate have already nullified the law for single-room pubs if the owners themselves are serving drinks.

But states should strictly enforce the smoking ban in establishments that don't meet the exception requirements because it remains a serious health risk, the court stressed. Nearly one in three German adults is a smoker and Germany was one of Western Europe's last countries to institute a ban.

Story continues below…

Chief justice Hans-Juergen Papier made clear, however, that the court saw public health as more important than the right to smoke or run a bar and would rule accordingly in any further challenges to the laws.

"A general smoking ban in restaurants and taverns would have more protection under the constitution than the right to practise one's profession as a barkeeper or the freedom to smoke," he said.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd