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Belgium stubbing out smoking in restaurants

Published on 31/05/2005

31 May 2005

BRUSSELS – Belgium is set to introduce a smoking ban in restaurants from January 2007.

Health Minister Rudy Demotte has long made clear that he wanted some kind of ban to protect passive smokers and has studied the Irish and Italian models, among others.
On Tuesday – World No Tobacco Day – the Belgian media reported that Demotte has finally decided to opt for a ban on smoking in food establishments.

However, the minister proposes to let smoking continue in cafes, bars and snack bars, by giving those establishments a renewable three-year opt-out.

“The café must keep its social and cultural role,” he explained, announcing the measure on Monday.

The royal decree that the minister is to put forward will specify that customers can smoke in places where food sales don’t exceed 33 percent.

Restaurants will also be allowed to create smoking rooms where customers can enjoy a cigarette after dinner. Only drinks, not food, though, can be served in them – and they mustn’t exceed a quarter of the whole restaurant’s space.

Announcing his plans, Demotte pointed out that 2,500 people die in Belgium every year from passive smoking, double the amount of people who die in road accidents.

Among those who die from breathing in smoke in their workplace, half of those work in the HORECA sector.

The minister has already introduced a ban on smoking in the workplace, which comes into affect next January.

Demotte said his ban on selling tobacco to under-16-year-olds was generally being respected by traders. Since the introduction of the law in December, the authorities have carried out 808 inspections and found just 10 cases of the rules being broken.

However, Demotte said tobacco manufacturers were not being as law-abiding when it comes to respecting new rules on tobacco advertising.

He said manufacturers were putting pressure on traders to carry out illegal advertising by, for instance, distributing product freebies. Since the start of this year, 14 fines have been issued for infringing the law.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news