A quarter of pubs flouting the smoking ban
During the first four months of the year inspectors drew up 500 reports in connection with pubs and restaurants that were not observing the smoking ban.
The ban is being observed by 77 percent of establishments in the Belgian hospitality industry.
The figure is only slightly down on the figure for 2013 as a whole.
A report was drawn up with regard to 450 smokers who were infringing the ban too.
Since May 2014 Belgium's public health ministry has been operating EUR 6,000 euro fines for violations of the ban.
The fine can be doubled if landlords reoffend. Establishments can also be closed for six months.
Paul Van den Meerssche: "We noticed that for cafés it can be more profitable to allow smoking and pay the fine. We now want to use the fine as a deterrent. We also want to create a levelling playing field for pubs and restaurants that stick to the letter of the law."
Mr Van den Meerssche is indignant about industry associations that continue to support members who violate the law: "Again and again they speak of the risk of a bankruptcy. It's not a proper argument. The sector has been under pressure for years. It's time the associations back their members who comply with the law."
Flandersnews.be / Expatica