Belgium expands smoking ban to all cafes, casinos
Belgium's top court decided Tuesday to widen the country's smoking ban in public spaces to cover all cafes and the kingdom's nine casinos from July 1.
Smoking has been banned in work places, restaurants and pubs that serve food since 2009, while temporary exemptions had been granted to casinos and cafes that only serve snacks such as crisps and peanuts.
The law had called for the exemptions to end sometime between January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2014, but the Flemish Anti-Cancer League asked Belgium's constitutional court to strike them down.
The court decided to lift the exemptions but gave establishments until June 30 to "adapt to the general smoking ban."
The judges ruled that the government failed to prove that pubs would be harmed by a general smoking ban, saying that drawing distinctions between establishments was actually harmful to competition.
The court also stated that the protection of the health of employees and non-smokers should apply to casinos even though they serve a "specific" clientele.
Smokers will still find a corner to light up: Special smoking rooms equipped with air vents in restaurants and other public buildings are still permitted since smokers are not supposed to use them, the judges said.
© 2011 AFP