"Coffeeshops not threatened by ban"

4th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

4 July 2007, THE HAGUE – The continued existence of coffeeshops is not under threat from the smoking ban to take effect in the hospitality industry on 1 July 2008, Public Health Minister Ab Klink told Parliament on Tuesday. "If we want to get rid of the policy of tolerance towards soft drugs then we should do that directly, not by means of the smoking ban." The Volkskrant reports.

4 July 2007

THE HAGUE – The continued existence of coffeeshops is not under threat from the smoking ban to take effect in the hospitality industry on 1 July 2008, Public Health Minister Ab Klink told Parliament on Tuesday. "If we want to get rid of the policy of tolerance towards soft drugs then we should do that directly, not by means of the smoking ban." The Volkskrant reports.

Labour PvdA, Democrats D66 and green-left GroenLinks are urging that coffeeshops be exempted from the smoking ban. "We have chosen this soft drugs policy, and that is why smoking should remain permitted in coffeeshops," said PvdA MP Bouwmeester. Van Gent (GroenLinks): "A coffeeshop where you are not allowed to smoke is like swimming pool where you're not allowed to swim."

No exception will be made for coffeeshops, Klink said. The same rules will apply as for other hospitality sector venues. Businesses may set up a separate smoking area as long as it is screened off from the rest of the establishment and service is not provided in the area.

Klink is not setting any requirements for size or ventilation. He says he can imagine that most coffeeshops will simply screen off the sales point so that the larger area of the shop becomes a smoking room.

Bouwmeester was pleased with the minister's answer. "I was worried that coffeeshops would just turn into a booth to sell their wares, but it turns out there is no reason to worry about that."

Only the Freedom Party PVV and Liberal VVD are opposed to the smoking ban now. Schippers (VVD) says that ventilation systems can offer adequate protection against harmful smoke. Klink responded however that all studies have shown that these are not effective enough.

The Christian Democrat CDA wants the minister to look into the possibility of fining smokers. The ChristenUnie is the only other party that supports this request. Klink's proposal only provides for the business owner to be fined.

Smokers will also be offered a course to kick the habit, which will most likely be covered by insurance in future. Klink said he wants these courses to be included in the basic insurance package.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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