Full Smoking Ban Is Needed in Germany

Pubic health officials have called for Germany to introduce a national ban on smoking in all enclosed public spaces after research showed that the country’s16 federal states have largely failed to ban smoking in pubs, bars and restaurants leaving guests and staff exposed to dangerous levels of smoke.

smoking permission sign

smoking permission sign

Martina Poetschke-Langer, head of the World Health Organization Office in Heidelberg, said that smoking tobacco products was still a serious threat to people in restaurants and pubs. Results from studies by the WHO Tobacco Control Office at the German Cancer Research Centre (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) were presented at a press conference in Berlin on 3 May.

Dr Poetschke-Langer said the current laws are too complicated, impracticable, and difficult to execute. Only a full national ban could offer effective protection from secondhand smoke, she said.

In September 2007 the German government introduced a law banning smoking in all federal buildings, public transport facilities, and train stations. In addition, the country’s 16 states have enacted smoking bans in indoor facilities such as restaurants, bars, and pubs, but to a different degree. Whereas the states of Bavaria and Saarland issued a total ban, most other states have introduced legislation that gave venues with two or more rooms the option to allow smoking in adjoining rooms that are structurally separate, or allowed a small pub to be declared a “smoking pub.”

For the latest studies a team of researchers visited 2939 eating venues in eight German state capitals (Düsseldorf, Hannover, Kiel, Mainz, Magdeburg, Schwerin, Stuttgart, and Wiesbaden) plus two areas in Munich and Berlin with a high density of restaurants and pubs.

They found that more than four out of five restaurants and pubs used legal loopholes or flouted the rules to allow people to smoke. Tests carried out by the team showed that the concept of separate smoking rooms failed to stop potentially harmful air particles wafting into non-smoking areas.

“If someone wants to go for a beer in the evening they have to look for a long time until they find a place where they are not exposed to passive smoke,” said Dr Poetschke-Langer.

The DKFZ said, “The rules governing exceptions on protecting non-smokers are neither practical nor effective. In most states they can be said to have been a failure.”

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