Dutch MPs worried by smoking in bars

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Dutch MPs are worried that, despite the official ban on smoking in bars and clubs, people are being allowed to smoke in over half such establishments. They are calling on Health Minister Edith Schippers to scrap her plans to relax the ban, arguing that she should enforce it more strictly.

Smoking became illegal in bars, restaurants and clubs in the Netherlands in July 2008. Customers were only allowed to smoke outdoors or in special smoking areas isolated from the rest of the premises. Last November, the new Dutch government went someway to relaxing the ban for small owner-run establishments.

The Labour Party is especially critical of Minister Schippers’ latest proposal to relax the no-smoking law still further. She argues that bars measuring up to 70 square metres, where no staff are employed and where no smoking area can be built, should be excused from the ban. Labour says this is the thin end of the wedge and that the no-smoking law should cover all premises and be properly enforced.

Dutch support Support among the Dutch for the smoking ban has grown since it was introduced. In 2005, just 28 percent of people were reported to be behind a ban on smoking in bars. In 2010, the figure had risen to 50 percent. As far as restaurants are concerned, 75 percent supported the ban in 2010, up from just 42 percent in 2005.

A recent poll for the  news station reveals that over half those questioned were angry that people were smoking again in some bars, while nearly 80 percent of respondents complained about smoking in restaurants.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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