Commission preparing pan-European smoking ban
The European Commission is preparing to introduce legislation in 2011 to ban smoking in public places right across the union.
While partial or total smoking bans have been introduced in many European countries ending patrons' ability to smoke in bars, cafes and other public venues, it is still relatively easy in some states to find a bolt-hole where smokers are welcome, whether due to exceptions to such laws or owners flouting the bans.
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Health commissioner John Dalli has said he wants to put a stop to this.
"We need a complete ban on smoking in all public spaces, transport and the workplace," he said in an interview on Monday (11 October) with German daily Die Welt.
Announcing that Brussels is currently preparing a bill to be brought forward next year, he said that exceptions should no longer be tolerated, as the matter "is not only about the health of visitors, but also the employees."
In Belgium for example, home to the EU executive, patrons can still light up in cafes so long as the establishment does not serve food, while the Greek health minister last Wednesday admitted the effective failure of its 2009 smoking ban, saying that undercover inspections revealed that eight out of 10 bars openly flouted the law.
The EU bill may also attempt to reduce the amount of nicotine and other toxic substances contained in the product.
The commission will furthermore try to win agreement on rules making tobacco products no longer visible to customers and make packaging as unattractive as possible. The packets are to be made identical in appearance and to bear colourful warning pictures, such as of diseased lungs, as well as more information on the toxins the product contains.
"The more uniform and bland packaging the cigarettes are, the better," said the commissioner.
The addiction kills some 650,000 Europeans every year.