Public smoking ban applied in eight more German states

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Smokers in eight of the 16 German states were taking a final, New Year's Eve puff before a partial ban on smoking in restaurants and bars went into effect at midnight.

31 December 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Smokers in eight of the 16 German states were taking a final, New Year's Eve puff Monday before a partial ban on smoking in restaurants and bars went into effect at midnight.

The ban, in step with France's prohibition of bistro smoking from January 1, has angered many Germans, who have denounced it as an invasion of their personal liberty.

The exact terms differ from state to state. Most allow premises to maintain separate bars for smokers.

In effect, the new rules only require a main smoke-free area in bars and restaurants.

While most city hotels have enough space to segregate smokers in separate bars, smaller premises which cannot be partitioned will have to ask smokers to step outside.

The rules have been largely respected in the three German states that applied bans back in August and October. Five more states have yet to act, with the last two set to legislate bans by July.

The federal government has no authority over the catering trade, but has egged the 16 states to agree among themselves on a coordinated smoking ban in the whole nation.

Bavaria has been the strictest of the eight starting with a ban on Tuesday. It will not permit separate smoking bars, and smoking is also being prohibited in beer tents at the annual Oktoberfest and other public festivals.

The other seven states beginning the ban in the new year are Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg West Pomerania, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein.

Publicans are collecting funds to mount a legal challenge against the bans before Germany's federal constitutional court, alleging a breach of basic rights.

The federal government used its powers over transport to ban smoking from Sept. 1 in taxis, on buses, on trains and in planes anywhere in Germany.

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