Former German chancellor accused of smoking
Germany's elder statesman joins others chafing under new German smoking rules.
Hamburg (dpa) - A non-smoker group has filed a criminal complaint against Helmut Schmidt, 89, a former chancellor of Germany, for defying Germany's new smoking ban.
As German leader 1974-1982, Schmidt retains a lifetime pension and police bodyguards. He has ignored the ban introduced in half of Germany on Jan. 1, lighting up along with his wife, Loki, 88, at public functions.
Horst Keiser, head of an anti-smoking group in Wiesbaden, central Germany, voiced outrage Friday at TV news pictures of Schmidt smoking with a smile on his face in a Hamburg theatre this month.
"We've filed a complaint against him and his wife for assault on others and infringing the Hamburg smoking ban," Keiser said.
Ruediger Bagger, a prosecutions spokesman in Hamburg, confirmed the complaint had been received, but said the docket would be dismissed.
"Smoking is definitely damaging to the health, but there's no evidence the Schmidts committed assault," he said.
Hamburg has already announced that its bylaws department will not start imposing misdemeanour fines on smokers till March, so the complaint seems unlikely to have any legal consequences.
Schmidt generally smokes cigarettes but has also smoked pipes and cigars. He has been smoking since he was a boy.