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Bavarians approve stricter smoking ban

AFP · 5 Jul 2010, 08:00

Published: 05 Jul 2010 08:00 GMT+02:00

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With ballots counted in all 96 districts, the anti-smoking camp had 61 percent of the vote although turnout was a low 37.7 percent. A simple majority was needed for victory.

The result will lead to new rules that will be the strongest in the country, banning smoking in all pubs, restaurants and beer tents, without exception.

Existing laws allow smokers to light up in beer tents and pubs with special smoking rooms.

The referendum, in which about 9.4 million people were eligible to vote, sparked a furious debate with those in favour of a total ban arguing for health considerations and opponents putting forward arguments about freedom of choice.

Those in favour of stamping out smoking hope a ban in Bavaria will lead to stricter rules across the country where various loopholes in smoking legislation have led to weak enforcement for existing rules.

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Smokers heading for this year's 200th anniversary of the beer-guzzling Oktoberfest should not necessarily leave their cigarettes at home, however.

According to local media, authorities have already announced any potential ban would not be in place for this year's festival, which last year attracted 5.7 million visitors from all around the world.

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Your comments about this article

08:43 July 5, 2010 by Grebo
I like the idea of not being subjected to second hand smoke is public but I find that non-smoking bans are rarely upheld in Germany. What's the point in passing a law if its not enforced?
10:22 July 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
This strikes me as the tyranny of the anti-smokers (usually former smokers) who are determined to impose their will on everyone else. It's part of a greater cultural war to marginalize smokers into oblivion. But I happen to believe in freedom of choice, and I believe that smoking and non-smoking establishments can co-exist in a civilized society. To those who wish to attack this law by blaming it on "nanny state liberalism," bear in mind that Bavaria is the most conservative state in Germany. So this ill-advised law is the product of "nanny state conservatism."

The decision to delay enactment of the law until next year so that Oktoberfest revenues won't be affected speaks to the hypocrisy at play here. I would recommend banning Oktoberfest if anything is to be banned, as the annual congregation of hundreds of thousands of loutish tourists who are hell-bent on getting as drunk, boorish and belligerent as possible poses a far greater threat to society than a few molecules of second-hand smoke. But as Oktoberfest will go on as usual, I urge all aggrieved smokers from all over the world to boycott this commercial see-how-drunk-and-obnoxious-you-can-get ripoff carnival altogether.

One other thing while on the subject of hypocrisy. If the government believes that smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke is so dangerous or deadly that smoking should be banned in public, the government should get out of the tobacco business. It reaps tremendous revenues from its excessive taxation of tobacco products, which makes the government complicit in the deaths and other negative health effects attributed to smoking. If the government were morally consistent in its position it would outlaw cigarettes and smoking altogether. I'd be curious to see what the effects of that would be, both in terms of lost tax revenues and criminalizing millions of law-abiding citizens.
11:03 July 5, 2010 by pepsionice
So as Bavarians sit around their local pubs next spring, and the owner says they just aren't making the same usual profits....closure is looming....and they wonder why, they might gaze at this agenda. Smokers will quit the pubs and simply go and have a beer at the neighbor's house or find some "private" club to join where they can smoke and drink. In small towns of 500 folks.....and only one pub....it will be a big mess when that pub says adios and has to close.
11:14 July 5, 2010 by Portnoy
Gosh yes I remember the restaurant/bar holocaust of 1996 in the U.S. when they instituted such a ban there. And I mean just look at Americans -- it's obvious they don't eat out much anymore because they can't smoke there.

RIP restaurants and bars. So sorry smokers (who represent a minority of the population and therefore the smaller buying power) stopped coming.
11:25 July 5, 2010 by OkieinBerlin
Prufrock, I find your objections to anti-smoking laws a bit over-wrought. No one is telling smokers that they can't smoke; only that they can't smoke in enclosed public places. Smoke at home if you want, or step outside to exert your freedoms, your rights, your anti-authoritarian credentials -- as far this "cultural war" against smokers, well, now you're beginning to sound like the Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Relax a little. (But I'd reply to this claim by arguing that those who choose to foul the air of any room they're in, leaving a cloud of stink behind, are choosing to marginalize themselves.) Think of the issue as an economic one, and how smoking-related illness burdens the health-care system in this country. Surely discouraging smoking generally in Germany is a good thing for German health and the German health care system -- and as a contributor to this health care system, I too have a right to expect that the state address tobacco-related health care costs.
11:54 July 5, 2010 by marimay
If people want to subject themselves to premature wrinkles, poor circulation, hardening of arterial walls and a painfully slow cancerous death that is fine, but leave people who made better choices for themselves out of it.

I like this ban :)
12:09 July 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
OkieinBerlin --

This is truly a first. Never before in my life have I been compared to right wing religious charlatans Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Anti-authoritarian they are not. It did give me a chuckle, however.

If I follow your logic correctly vis-a-vis health care costs relating to smoking, which is a valid argument, I submit that you must address the last paragraph of my comment wherein I addressed the issue of the government's complicity in this problem by profiting enormously from the taxation of tobacco products. You can't have it both ways. If it is definitively declared to be a killer, as each pack of cigarettes warns, then it should be outlawed altogether and the government should live with the lost tax revenues. That's what happens when there's a three-way collision among social engineering, greed and ethics. The government has a moral and ethical obligation to get out of the tobacco business unless it wants to remain an accomplice to the deaths and tobacco-related health care costs that it complains about.
12:24 July 5, 2010 by Jazzineva
Compromise, respect and consideration are the only ways to resolve this conflict. Like it or not, smokers contribute to the economy and deserve pleasant social places to smoke out of the way of food and non-smokers. Banning this possibility is unrealistic, hurts businesses and angers the addicted not yet ready to give up their poison. Those who indulge in alcohol can also harm their own health and the health of others but who in the world would ever think of placing bans on places to drink it?!? It's silly to have smokers stinking up tents and bothering those around them who hate it, no matter how big they are, but give them a place to go anyway. Smoking rooms for the mutually consensual are the best way to go.
13:07 July 5, 2010 by OkieinBerlin
Prufrock, I'm glad I caused a chuckle. Still, though, I suggest you watch your rhetoric more carefully -- I still remember clearly the Good Reverends' warnings about a "cultural war" unfolding in US, pitting secular Liberals and all other nasty types againts good, God-fearing American Christians. Maybe I missed his point entirely, though, and he meant smokers versus nonsmokers. I admit that I never listened too carefully. Nevertheless, I agree with the gist of your last-paragraph argument -- government hypocrisy indeed. I'd argue that the Bavarian voters -- 37.7% of them -- have sent a message that such hypocrisy is perhaps now being questioned by Germans, at least in regards to smoking. And if I can't have it both ways, then I'll take it without the tobacco revenue -- but then with tax-free cigarettes to consume (I wouldn't call for a complete ban), maybe smokers would sacrifice their claims to heath-care coverage. Is this fair enough?
13:47 July 5, 2010 by tallady
well put OkienBerlin..good riddins to the smoking crowd,maybe us non smokers can enjoy the pubs for a change.....
14:08 July 5, 2010 by qaz668
Reducing people's exposure to smoke should be priority one. Smokers who want to expose the people around them to less smoke can switch to an electronic cigarette. It burns nothing, thus it produces no smoke, and so, nobody is exposed to any smoke whatsoever - not even the user!

An electronic cigarette warms and atomizes a water-based nicotine solution that is made with only flavorings or chemicals rated as safe to ingest. They are all already used in foods and/or medicines. Amazingly though, the vapor it produces feels and satisfies like tobacco smoke. It is win/win. You can learn more about it at www.CleanGreenNicotine.com/uk .
14:58 July 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
OkieinBerlin --

I think that if the trade-off is for smokers to sacrifice their claims to health-care coverage, as you suggest, then the same must be said for consumers of alcohol and unhealthy food, as well as anyone who exercises any personal choice that is potentially harmful to one'sself. Obesity caused by junk food, not only in the US but here in Germany, is at an all-time high. Junk food consumption is a lifestyle choice, and its consequences are frequently death and morbidity, which strains the health care system to its limits. Alcohol consumption is one of the primary causes of serious illness and death in the western world, and given the number of people killed by drunk drivers every year, alcohol consumption affects not only the consumer but society as a whole. Should junk food junkies and people who drink to excess be denied medical insurance along with smokers? Do we need lifestyle police to determine who is or is not insured? It's coming to that in America, at least so far as smokers are concerned, as they are either being denied coverage or required to pay a much higher premium. These decisions are being made by insurance companies who are making record profits by denying legitimate medical claims of their insured and making coverage unaffordable for tens of millions of people. But I digress. The short answer to your proposition is "no." As a smoker who pays his insurance premiums here in Germany, I'm entitled to health care just as much as my willfully obese neighbor who can't keep his face out of the tub of ice cream or the booze hound who drinks himself into oblivion before getting behind the wheel of a car and menacing other motorists. The best solution to this dilemma, in my view, is either for the government to stay out of the tobacco business or to let privately owned establishments (bars and restaurants) determine if they want to be smoke-free, smoking allowed or something in between. This is one of the very few areas where the free market actually can and will regulate itself. As a smoker, I'm considerate of nonsmokers. I would hope for the same consideration from them.
14:59 July 5, 2010 by Gaffers
I always have to smile when this debate surfaces. Everyone assumes there is black and white solutions. Non smokers damn the inconsiderate smokers for spoiling their health and pleasure. Smokers scream for freedom of choice. There is compromise.

The way the ban works currently in Bavaria is fine. I smoke but since the ban in some bars I smoke less because of having to go outside. I'm fine with that but at the same time it is nice to be able to sit and enjoy, and yes smokers can enjoy smoking, a cigarette in comfort with my friends (not all of whom rant and rave like some of the posters here). If I want to smoke inside I can go to a bar that allows it. If you are a non smoker then don't go to those bars. It is that simple.

There are things other people do that annoy the hell out of me. Do I get start claiming attacks on my personal rights? No, I deal with it as a grown up and avoid them. Ban smoking in the majority of public places where people have no choice but allow some establishments to make the choice.

Contrary to what people think the economy will not implode if people cannot smoke indoors. That's a poor argument from smokers based on nothing. The same way that non smokers didn't avoid pubs and bars in the past because of smoking.

Prufrock, I'm sorry you don't enjoy the Oktoberfest (even if it is completely off topic) but millions of people do and it may be commercial but of course it is. It's there to make money. Not everyone goes to get fall over drunk. There are those that do but that's in the minority. Many go just to have fun and enjoy the party. I would suggest it is the same as with smoking. If you don't like it then stay away from it.

We cannot ban everything that is bad for us. If so there would be no cigarettes, no alcohol, no junk food, no fast cars etc. We all have a personal responsiblility to others but different ideas can exist together. We don't need to regulate everything to death.
15:26 July 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Gaffers --

I agree with your comments. I've been to Oktoberfest once and that cured me, so I avoid it. I also avoid standing in the street in front of a jumbotron among 100,000 jacked-up football fans to watch a world cup match, when I can watch it among a few friends on the big screen in my living room without the drunkenness, hysteria and fear of being trampled to death by a frenzied mob. And yes, I drink, too. I just don't get loutish when I do. It's all about choice.
16:00 July 5, 2010 by sorochin
Bavaria has been a favorite destination of mine for years. I'd love to say that I'll boycott it from now on, but unfortunately I have good friends there and have to visit. but I will spend the absolute minimum amount of time and money.

@Portnoy: if smokers (and sympathetic non-smokers) are such an ineffectual minority, why does it take a law to establish non-smoking pubs?????
16:19 July 5, 2010 by OkieinBerlin
Prufrock, we've gotten away from the point here. The people of Bavaria voted to ban smoking in public places. Good for them. They have every right to do so, and plenty of reason. They raised their objections to such smoking, acted on them, and achieved political results. I really wouldn't consider my dear, elderly parents-in-law who voted for the ban in any way tyrannical. That's how the system works -- it is not a logically or an ideologically perfect system, as your argument calls for. Smoking is an easy target these days (fortunately or unfortunately). If the ban offends you, organize, act and have it overturned (again). Or better yet, hound the German government out of the tobacco business. In the meantime (if you're in Bavaria), smoke outside. Here in Berlin, I'll avoid the smokers' bars.
16:46 July 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
OkieinBerlin --

I'll just avoid Bavaria.

I know the outcome of the vote, and I'm not suggesting that your dear elderly parents-in-law are tyrants. Originally I was trying to make a simple point about governmental hypocrisy, which is as follows:

If the government asserts that a legally marketed product that is used as intended causes death, disease and morbidity, that government should not profit from the marketing of that product. I don't think anyone can argue with that logic.

The people of Bavaria have every right to vote for a smoking ban, and they have spoken. Only time will determine the ramifications, good or bad, or their decision. I'm sure the battle is not over, but since I don't intend to spend another penny in Bavaria, the matter is purely academic to me.
18:05 July 5, 2010 by sorochin
Gaffers: execellent post and I agree almost wholeheartedly.

It should be noted that the goal of the antismokers is not merely protecting nonsmokers or providing them places to go, it's what they call "denormalization"--they wish to make smoking invisible and looked upon as some form of deviant behavior. So they consider any solution that would allow smokers some legitimacy to be unacceptable.

No, the economy won't implode but certain segments of the hospitality industry may hurt. Consider what happened in the British Isles, where pubs continue to close at record numbers since bans were imposed. I wonder if the owners of some of these Kneipen will be able to recover money from the state government for loss of income.

Prufrock2010: here in the US, antismoking organizations are supported by taxes on tobacco products!!! Ther was a proposal in one state to make tobacco illegal, period. Guess who opposed it, besides smokers, bar owners, etc.? The antismoking groups! Taxes on tobacco are a huge gravy train for them.
18:16 July 5, 2010 by harrylatour
The ban has ruined a ''good night out'' in GB (ask any REAL socialising Brit) half of our Pubs are closed and if you do go to the pub and fancy a smoke with your pint,,,,,(one of gods real gifts!!),,,,well you will have to stand outside,in the rain,in the wind,,,,,aaannddd,,you PAID for that pint!! Go to any town in GB on the weekend and there are crowds of people standing OUTSIDE the Clubs and Pubs having a smoke!! Look INSIDE and the place is nearly EMPTY,,,you are being fed the same LIES by the non smokers as we all were,,,''ooh it will be lovely to go out for a drink and a meal now Mabel,,,without all that nasty smoke''.what a load of bollox,,,they are not Pub people and never will be.If you think I am joking just look at the FACTS in our licenced trades journals.
18:30 July 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Sorochin --

Yes, in the US many anti-smoking groups are funded by tobacco companies as part of settlements of class-action lawsuits and federal multi-district tobacco litigations. One of the biggest and most brazen scams was pulled off in California, spearheaded by Rob Reiner, in which the citizens were induced to pass ballot initiatives that exponentially raised the state tax on cigarettes on the premise that the tax revenues would go to public education. That began about 12 years ago, and to my knowledge not one penny of that money has gone to the schools. The do-gooders always cloak their self-righteous campaigns on a "we must do it for our children" type slogan, and we know what a crock that is.
19:11 July 5, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
As an ex-smoker I can see both sides of this issue. I can agree that it would be ok to ban smoking in a restaurant. But it should be the choice of the owner. If you don't like the policy of that particular restaurant, then your free not to go there. But to make a law about it is a bit much. What next, smoke police?

And as far as the tents at the Oktoberfest, they are not small confined places where one might experience a lack of fresh air. Perhaps the problem is that the ones who are having trouble finding fresh air have their heads stuck in a bodily orifice...
19:53 July 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
JohnnesKönig --

"What's next, smoke police?"

That's not so far-fetched. Shortly after the California legislature enacted a smoking ban in all work places, a big rig trucker was pulled over by a Highway Patrol officer and given a ticket for smoking in the cab of his 18-wheeler because it was technically a "work place." No kidding. I couldn't make stuff like this up!
20:35 July 5, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
Prufrock2010, I am not surprised.. But California is not Bayern, yet... And California is not really even US. It's the left coast! I considered moving there but after a short visit, I moved very far away... How far away is Germany?
21:05 July 5, 2010 by sorochin
Prufrock2010: Absolutely. There's a program called SCHIP, which raises taxes on cigarettes, allegedly to provide health care for poor children. The interesting thing is the same people supporting it are the ones who want people to stop smoking. How will the poor children get health care is everyone quits. If indeed, that is where the money will go. I'll gladly pay extra to help poor children IF indeed that is where the money goes and IF I can light up in my local bar.

In my visits to Bavaria, I have always encountered the attitude, verbalized and not, that Bavarians are laid-back folks who like a good time. I guess this rosy self-image is as mythical as the Anglo-American love of personal liberty...
22:51 July 5, 2010 by Joshontour
Twice in the same week I have agreed with Prufrock... what is this world coming to???

Funny story though, in Minnesota smoking in restaurants and other nightspots contains an exception for performers in theatrical productions. So some bars are getting around the ban by printing up playbills, encouraging customers to come in costume, and pronouncing them "actors."
00:12 July 6, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Don't worry, Josh. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. :)

By the way (and I really can't remember), who was it who was busted for smoking on stage during a concert in Glasgow last year? Was it Keith Richards?

JohnnesKönig --

If California is too "left" for you I would recommend Orange, San Diego or Riverside Counties. You might feel right at home.
21:26 July 6, 2010 by Gretl
I think Americans are missing the point and the pain the Germans are going through. We had 20+ years to go from smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants (which started out as voluntary), to bans in public places and work environments. Bayern has had, what, 2 years? Three? That is a massive cultural shift in a short period of time. Will everybody adapt? Yes. Will it hurt along the way? Yes.

I have a friend who owns a small pub and is a smoker. He was worried when the ban went into effect, but I told him it would work out and it did. He has smoking and non-smoking areas, and many patrons sit outside during warm weather. However, banning it outright in pubs I think is premature. Give everyone time to adjust. I hope my friend does quit or cut back, because I would like to see him live a long life, something I don't think will happen now.
03:28 July 7, 2010 by sorochin
Gretl: not premature, unfair. Too bad not everybody wants to be part of social engineering (maybe you thought it had died in a bunker in 1945!) How hubristic of you to think your friend won't live as long as you do! Do you consider yourself better than him? Does he know this? Many smokers live long lives; in fact, smoker-friendly Germany has a longer life expectancy than the US. Japan, which doesn't have any of this anti-smoking nonsense and the world's highest rate of adult smoking, has the world's longest life expectancy.
19:45 July 7, 2010 by Gretl
Sorochin: Better? No, Realistic. I know his family history, and I've seen what happens to him when he gets sick. I lost both my grandfathers to smoking related disease (one was 75, the other 80). Maybe I should have said a long, healthy life as my grandfather experienced his first heart attack at 55. I think you are deluding yourself if you think smoking has no effect on one's health. I am not throwing any stones however, addictions of any kind, smoking, drinking, drugs, or food, are very difficult to quit.
00:43 July 8, 2010 by sorochin
"smoking-related diseases"; once they establish a "link" no matter how tenuous, any disease is "smoking-related' and anyone who dies from said disease, whether they smoke or not, becomes a casualty. This is what gives antismokers the huge numbers they always throw around.

I never said smoking has no effect on one's health, just that the current hysteria is highly exaggerated.
02:29 July 15, 2010 by thequeen09@att.net
I believe the government went too far. There should be a choice and you can patranize the establishment you want to. Owners of any establishment should be able to decide if they want smoking or not. Maybe when the non-smokers have something they like taken away it will be a different story. Wait until the government goes after heavy people, or maybe those who drink? I believe we need to be heard before the government & insurance companies rule the world and we no longer have freedom of choice. I am a smoker, I can live with not smoking in a dining room. But I also do not drink and can come up with all the health (physical & mental) and cost issues associated with that. It is plain & simple that the government went too far and need to know that people will not allow them to have too much power. As we all know too much of anything is not healthy. Where will it end?
04:39 July 16, 2010 by sorochin
Don't worry; alcohol is next. Here in the United States of Asininity we are already seeing bans on food.
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