Germans favour national smoking ban

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3 Aug, 2008 Updated Sun 3 Aug 2008 14:16 CEST
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A wide majority of Germans want a comprehensive smoking ban instead of state-by-state rules, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported on Sunday.

Some 81 percent of respondents to an Emnid Institute survey commissioned by Bild said the federal government should set rules on smoking in bars and restaurants instead of ceding responsibility to the states.

Roland Koch, premier of the German state of Hesse, told the newspaper he would open talks with other state premiers on a comprehensive ban. Koch promised to put the issue on the agenda of the next meeting of state premiers in Dresden in October.

“It is sensible for the states to reach as much of an amicable consensus on non-smoker protection as possible and to prevent a patchwork of regulations across the country,” Koch said. “We should also agree not to turn this into a political debate.”

The German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe overturned smoking bans in the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Berlin on Wednesday, unleashing debate on how the country should address regulations on smoking.

The court found that laws allowing bars to set up separate smoking rooms put one-room corner pubs at a competitive disadvantage over large multi-room bars. Berlin and Baden-Württemberg have until the end of 2009 to change their laws, and until then, smoking is allowed in one-room bars that don’t serve food.

But the court left the way open for a strict smoking ban to cover all restaurants and bars regardless of size.

Though the Bild survey showed overwhelming support for comprehensive rules, respondents were divided on what those rules should be.

Some 56 percent of respondents supported a smoking ban with exceptions – such as for small corner pubs – while 23 percent wanted all bars and restaurants to be smoke-free. Some 20 percent opposed a smoking ban. Emnid surveyed 500 German citizens.

Renate Künast, co-chairwoman of the opposition Green Party, criticized the federal government on Sunday for leaving smoking rules up to the states.

“It was an act of cowardice to leave protection of non-smokers up to the states,” Künast said in comments quoted by the web site of German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

But change is unlikely in the beer tents of Oktoberfest, Günther Beckstein, premier of the German state of Bavaria, signalled in an interview published on Sunday in the newspaper Passauer Neue Presse. Bavaria allows smoking in beer and festival tents – meaning its state smoking ban doesn’t apply to Oktoberfest.

“I think we’re doing it exactly right,” Beckstein told the newspaper.




2008/08/03 14:16

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