15 January 2004
BERLIN – German bar and restaurant owners issued a stern warning Thursday against proposals by a top European Union health official to ban smoking in public places where food and beverages are sold.
“A smoking ban would be the death knell for many small corner pubs and would costs thousands of jobs,” said Ernst Fischer, head of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DHG).
The European Union health commissioner and anti-tobacco “czar”, David Byrne, has already proposed a ban on smoking in all workplaces. The former Irish attorney-general has said he hopes to make smoky bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants a thing of the past throughout the 15-member European Union.
In an interview with Die Welt newspaper, Byrne said that Germany is not doing enough to fight nicotine addiction. It is estimated that 100,000 Germans die of smoking-related diseases every year.
Next to Spain and Greece, Germany has the highest rate of smokers in Europe, he said. Statistics collected by the federal health ministry also show that while smoking declines in the rest of Europe, the number of smokers in Germany stays relatively constant.
But even more alarming, the starting age for first-time smokers is dropping. As of 2003, every third ninth-grader smoked.
But Fischer said current laws in Germany and other countries mandating non-smoking sections in cafes and restaurants negated the need for a total ban.
“Any further non-smoking efforts should be undertaken on a strictly voluntary basis,” Fischer said.
Subject: German news