From August 1, smokers will be allowed to puff away in pubs smaller than 75 square metres. Restaurants and beer tents that create smoking sections in side rooms will also be open to tobacco lovers. The health ministry may also allow smoking at establishments that can insure limited second-hand smoke with special ventilations systems. Children will not be admitted into the smoking areas.
The legislation has been roundly criticised by anti-smoking advocates, but many voters in the state were in favour of dropping the ban.
“The vast majority of the smoking clubs showed us that the previous law would fail,” Health Minister Markus Söder told news agency DDP.
A loophole in the ban created a wave of members-only smoking clubs, but the new law no longer allows these.
Söder said that the new law reflects reality and Bavaria’s “live and let live” attitude.
While smoking was banned in bars and restaurants in most German states starting January 1, 2008, it has been widely flouted. For example, many bars in Berlin set ashtrays on the tables after dark. And legal exceptions in many states have weakened the smoking ban.
Six months after the ban began, top courts ruled against the restrictions in Berlin and Baden-Württemberg, allowing smoking in bars smaller than 75 square metres (807 square feet) where no food is served.
Many German smokers also responded by starting grassroots groups and petitions to roll back the ban.