No spot checks on smoking in small Dutch cafes

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Health authorities will no longer check if small bars and cafes are observing the smoking ban, following a second court ruling which said the ban did not apply to bars without staff.

The Hague – The Dutch government has dropped spot checks on smoking in small cafes after bar owners won two legal victories in their fight against a ban on their premises, the health minister said Wednesday.

Ab Klink said in a letter to members of parliament that action taken to fine offenders had also been suspended temporarily.

Appeal courts at Leeuwarden in the north and Den Bosch in the south have found in favour of landlords of cafes, restaurants and hotels without staff, who said the law did not oblige them to implement a smoking ban.

The ban on smoking in the hotel, restaurant and catering industry was introduced in July 2008 with the aim of protecting employees from the dangers of second-hand smoke inhalation.

Several thousand small bars and cafes in the Netherlands united late last year to defy the smoking ban and create a joint legal defence fund, arguing they lacked the floor space and money to erect separate smoking-only areas.

However, the health minister said authorities will continue to spot check on cafes with staff. Klink is also working to amend the smoking ban so all cafes and bars can have a smoke-free area in future.

Prosecutors on Wednesday said they have taken the cases to a higher court for a definitive ruling.

AFP / Expatica

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