Court suspends German smoking ban in small bars

12th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

The court will consider whether the law is discriminatory.

Koblenz, Germany -- A ban on smoking in bars that was agreed by Germany's 16 states was blocked Tuesday by a temporary injunction from a constitutional court, cheering the hospitality trade.

Only Bavaria has a total ban like that in force in France, Italy and most of Britain. The other states allow bars to reserve for smokers a room if it is smaller than the non-smoking zone.

The court which interprets the constitution of Rhineland Palatinate state said it was reasonable to suppose that this discriminated against one-room, owner-operated bars.

The court in Koblenz ruled that until comprehensive legal argument and its final verdict, smoking could continue on premises where the bar-owner employed no staff provided there was a warning sign outside.

German constitutional courts have broad powers to suspend legislation where they believe it breaches fundamental principles such as equality.

The rest of the legislation, which has caused angst or anger among many Germans, is to go into force in the state this Friday.

Similar legislation will apply from this week in Saarland state, but the most populous state, North Rhine Westphalia, is waiting till July 1 to complete the nationwide ban.

Germany's tens of thousands of tiny, smoky bars are popular meeting places for older men. The outraged owners say customers will stay home rather than stop smoking.

Five bar-owners and a smoker brought the case in Koblenz.

DPA with Expatica

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