Bavarian smoking ban to hit Munich's Oktoberfest
12th December 2007,
12th December 2007
From January 1, 2008, smoking will also be outlawed in public buildings, schools, hospitals bars and restaurants in the toughest law of its kind ever to be enacted in Germany.
"Bavaria can really breathe freely from now on," the state's health secretary, Marcel Huber, said after deputies voted 140-18 in favour of the new legislation.
The only exceptions will be for prisons and actors taking part in theatre or opera performances.
Smoking will still be allowed in outdoor beer gardens, but not inside restaurants or bars, unlike other German states which allow bars and restaurants to set aside special rooms for smokers.
Huber brushed aside complains from the gastronomy industry that the smoking ban would lead to a drop in profits.
"They'll earn more because customers will have both hands free to eat and drink," the health minister said. More families and non-smokers would visit restaurants where the air is clean, he added.
Huber said the new measure was introduced out of health considerations.
"People who drink too much harm themselves. People who smoke harm others," he said.
It will be the first time in the Oktoberfest's 200-year history that people will not be allowed to smoke in the massive beer tents, some of which can accommodate thousands of guests.
An estimated 6 million visitors, many from the far side of the globe, visit the event each year to taste different beers, sway to the music or ride on roller-coasters.
A national smoking ban in trains, public transport, taxis and federal buildings came into force in September.
The government last year tried to impose a far-reaching smoking ban across the nation, but was forced to drop the idea because the constitution gave many of the powers to the 16 federal states.
On August 1, a ban applying to bars, restaurants, hospitals, schools and public buildings came into force in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Lower Saxony, and at hospitals, schools and public places in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, where a smoking ban in restaurants goes into effect in 2008.
Germany has been discussing a smoking ban for years, but the measures fall far short of the total bans imposed by many of its European neighbours.
Subject: German news