Most Belgians want to keep smoking in cafes

11th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 May 2005, BRUSSELS – A majority of Brussels’ residents are against a total ban on smoking in cafes and restaurants, a new survey has revealed.

11 May 2005

BRUSSELS – A majority of Brussels’ residents are against a total ban on smoking in cafes and restaurants, a new survey has revealed.

Conducted by cigarette manufacturers eager to find out how Belgians would react to an all-out smoking ban, the poll questioned some1,800 people, including customers, personnel and bar and restaurant owners.

It suggests that bar and restaurant owners could incur heavy financial losses and even face closings if a smoking ban came into force, French-language daily Le Derniere Heure reported on Wednesday.

A ban could lead to a loss of at least EUR 206 million for cafe owners, as well as the loss of some 5,000 jobs and the closure of 2,630 bistros, the survey suggested.

But it could lead to a rise in profits for restaurants, as 14 percent of restaurant customers said they would eat out in restaurants more often if they became non-smoking.

A full or partial smoking ban in restaurants could thus lead to a 2 percent increase in turnover for restaurants.

The survey also found that a majority of café customers – smokers and non-smokers alike – did not feel a smoking ban was necessary.

Smokers represent 35 percent of all café customers, and they spend an average of EUR 2 per visit than non-smokers.

In the survey, 74 percent of customers, 87 percent of owners and 90 percent of personnel questioned said they were against a ban.

In restaurants, however, one out of two customers said they would not be opposed to a ban.

Half of these opponents, however, said they would not be opposed to a separate smoking zone for smokers in the dining area.

Rudy Demotte, the Belgian public health minister, is expected to put forward a proposal  for a smoking ban in cafés and restaurants.

A few EU member states, including Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands, have already instituted either full or partial smoking bans in public places, including offices, bars and restaurants.

Yvan Roque, president of the Brussels Horeca Federation, which represents hotels, restaurants and the entire hospitality industry, suggested the survey’s results confirm the sector’s worst fears.

The survey "is an accurate study, whose conclusions correspond to reported figures among our members," he said.

But it fails to estimate just how many job losses the sector could face in the case of a ban: Roque said some 40,000 jobs would be lost.

Demotte, meanwhile, has suggested that the imminently expected ban on smoking in the horeca sector would not apply to cafes – at least for the first few years after the new law entered into force.

So the real question is: where does the café end and the bistro begin? Any Belgian establishment that receives more than 30 percent of its profits from serving food is considered a bistro/restaurant (petite restauration).

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian News

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