Berlin woman faces €250,000 fine if she smokes on balcony past 8pm
A woman in Berlin has been banned from smoking on her balcony past 8pm - a violation the ban could lead to a fine of up to €250,000, or six months in prison.
Uta F., 52, has lived in her Berlin-Hellersdorf apartment for the past nine years, but now her occasional nightly routine of having an evening cigarette has been halted by a court, according to B.Z..
Her upstairs neighbour took her to court because he said the smoke coming from her balcony was blowing into his apartment and bothering him.
Uta F. told B.Z. that she enjoyed having her evening cigarette on her balcony in her fourth floor apartment.
“I don’t smoke a lot - in the evening with wine or sometimes when I cannot sleep at night,” she said.
But a local court ruled that Uta F. may no longer smoke on her balcony between 8pm and 6am. The two parties ultimately agreed to the conditions of the judgement, and Uta F. may therefore not appeal, a civil court spokeswoman told broadcaster rbb on Monday evening.
The judge further stated that if the woman were to violate the conditions, she would face a fine of up to €250,000, or six months in prison.
“This punishment is, however, very unlikely,” the court spokeswoman said.
The judgement had been based on a federal court ruling in 2015 that said smoking tenants are only guaranteed to be able to smoke on their balconies during limited time periods, because the smoke presents a significant disturbance to others.
In that case, two married couples had battled it out for years over one couple’s smoking habits. After the federal court ruling, the case was sent back to a lower court for further review, but was ultimately thrown out because the wife in the pair of smokers had died.
Last year, one of Germany's 'most famous smokers' won a years-long legal battle against eviction before a Düsseldorf court. The court found that there was not sufficient evidence to show that he was disturbing the peace.
One liberal politician from the Free Democratic Party (FDP) condemned the latest ruling in Berlin. The Berlin state parliament representative and FDP spokesman for legal and constitutional protection said that he could only shake his head at the ruling.
“Forbidding an occasional smoker from having an evening cigarette on her own balcony constitutes a very big encroachment on her personal sphere,” said the FDP’s Holger Krestel.