Expatica news

Parliament debates smoking ban

21 February 2005

BRUSSELS – Hundreds of deaths from passive smoking could be avoided if Belgium banned smoking in public, it was reported on Tuesday.

The francophone liberal party, the Movement Reformateur (MR), opened a debate on the issue on Monday at the federal parliament.

The liberals argued the question was too important to be left to Health Minister Rudy Demotte and the restaurant and pub industry alone to decide.

More than 2,000 people die from diseases caused by tobacco without having been smokers themselves, said Jacques Brotchi, a leading neurosurgeon and MR senator.

A study by Jacques Dumont, from the ULB-Public Health School, showed 200,000 people are exposed to other people’s smoke, either at home or at the office.

The percentage of toxic particles in the air increases by 30 percent in a smoky environment.

Smoking bans noticeably reduce problems such as irritated throats and contact lens wearers complaining of dry eyes, reported Le Soir.

Workers who have to put up with passive smoking at work see their risk of lung cancer climb from 16 percent to 39 percent, while heart diseases climb from 25 percent to 35 percent.

A European study found six out of 10 people were bothered by smoke, a figure that includes a third of smokers.

Nevertheless, reported Le Soir, restaurant and bar owners are sceptical about a ban, despite the fact that in Ireland – where smoking has been banned since April 2004 – profits have not suffered.

In California and in New York, which also operate bans, turnover has even increased.

Belgium’s bar, hotel and restaurant federations have proposed a system where each bar or café would choose to be entirely non-smoking or entirely smoking and would then clearly display that choice.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news