Germany heads for a patchwork smoking bans

12th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

12 December 2006, Berlin (dpa) - Germany is heading for a US-style patchwork smoking ban, with some of the 16 states declaring they planned no restrictions while others said they might adopt a federal recommendation forcing restaurants to create no-smoking areas. Efforts to forge a Germany-wide ban collapsed last week, when Berlin said it lacked the necessary constitutional powers. Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to meet state premiers on Wednesday and ask them to act against smoking in public facilities a

12 December 2006

Berlin (dpa) - Germany is heading for a US-style patchwork smoking ban, with some of the 16 states declaring they planned no restrictions while others said they might adopt a federal recommendation forcing restaurants to create no-smoking areas.

Efforts to forge a Germany-wide ban collapsed last week, when Berlin said it lacked the necessary constitutional powers. Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to meet state premiers on Wednesday and ask them to act against smoking in public facilities and restaurants.

Germany applies fewer taxes and restrictions to tobacco and alcohol than most other major western nations do.

Edmund Stoiber, premier of the big southern state of Bavaria, told a Sunday newspaper, Bild am Sonntag, there would be bans in all public spaces and restaurants in Bavaria, but not in beer tents like those used at Munich's annual Oktoberfest beer festival.

However two other conservative premiers, Christian Wulff of Lower Saxony and Peter Mueller of Saarland, said they would not be issuing such bans, saying it was up to the owners of restaurants and bars to decide if their guests could smoke.

"The state should not interfere in every part of people's lives and regulate everything," Wulff told dpa.

"We should establish rules so that wherever people are obliged to spend time, such as in government offices, stations and airports, one is not allowed to smoke, but where people spend time of their own free will, there should be voluntary arrangements," he said.

Germany is Europe's biggest tobacco market with about 22 million smokers, or 27 percent of the population, according to the Federal Statistics Office.

So far it has has resisted calls from the European Union that would bring it into line with other countries which have introduced anti-smoking legislation.

Ireland, Finland, Italy, Spain, Malta and Sweden as well as Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand and several states in the United States already have total or partial smoking bans in pubs, bars, restaurants, cinemas and other public places.

DPA

Subject: German news

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