Sunday

26th Jan 2020

Austria and Romania among those with laxest smoking rules

  • Greece has a total ban on smoking in restaurants (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)

Smokers craving for an after meal cigarette at a restaurant may want to head to Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, Romania or Slovakia where bans either do not exist or are not enforced.

The findings, published on Tuesday (14 April) by the Brussels-based Smoke Free partnership (SFP) say all five have the laxest rules on smoking in the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The issue is raising concern because passive smoke is considered a risk to health, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The UN organisation has classified second hand smoke as a carcinogen.

The habit itself is said to kill some 700,000 smokers every year in the EU alone.

SFP director Florence Berteletti blames governments that don’t train police to “punish those who do not respect the law”.

She notes investment in police training like in the UK and Ireland has resulted in laws being applied. Other top enforcement countries include Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, and Spain.

Cyprus, Ireland, and UK, unlike other member states, also ban people from smoking in private places - such as cars - if children are present.

Ireland took it a step further by turning people into informants after it set up a government hotline. People can call it whenever they witness someone lighting up in a public space.

"In Ireland, even today, there is a phone line where if it is not enforced, you can ring," said Berteletti.

Another Irish distinction occurred in 2004 when it became the first country in the world to introduce a smoking ban at the workplace.

By then, the world’s first public international health treaty had been passed when the WHO adopted a framework convention on tobacco control (FCTC). This then entered into force in 2005 and created a legal obligation to adopt and implement rules to protect people from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke in public spaces.

A few years later in 2009, the Council, representing member states, officially recognised the harm caused by second hand smoke.

At the time, it recommended a 100 percent smoking ban in all public spaces, including hospitality venues.

But six years later the WHO rules and EU recommendations are either being flouted or applied haphazardly in many member states.

Martin Seychell, deputy director general of health and food safety at the European commission, said second hand smoke remains a major source of mortality and morbidity. Estimates from 2006 suggest it kills some 79,000 on an annual basis in the EU.

“It has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, causes heart disease, lung cancer, and many other diseases,” he said.

The commission wants legislation to encourage people to stop smoking and to “denormalise” it.

Around half the member states have either adopted or strengthened their legislation in this area since 2009.

But Seychell says smoking exceptions for places like small bars are complicating enforcement and applications of the laws.

“It is clear that national legislation that contains many exemptions is much more difficult to enforce and therefore tends to be much less effective,” he said.

He also critised tobacco industry for creating electronic cigarettes, and praised Belgium, Malta, and Slovakia for having adopted additional rules that ban the mechanical devices in public spaces.

The commission says investment in prevention has immediate returns, especially for people suffering from asthma or cardiovascular disease.

Member states, for their part, have until May next year to fully transpose into national laws the revised EU tobacco products directive, which toughens up rules on how tobacco products are manufactured, produced and presented in the EU.

Exclusive

Belgium prepares probe into Politico tobacco sponsorship

Tobacco company British American Tobacco sponsored the popular Playbook newsletter this week - saying it is not against the law because the advertisements were not about specific products. Now the Belgian authorities are preparing to investigate.

Thousands apply for EU border guard posts

Around 7,500 applications were sent to Frontex to fill 700 new border guard posts. The guards will become official EU staff and wear a yet to be unveiled 'European Union' uniform.

Interview

Cloud of mistrust over Malta's new government

Malta's new government does not look likely to turn it into a normal, law-abiding EU state any time soon, the son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan premier refuses to step down, despite ruling
  2. UK set to support new fossil fuel projects in Africa
  3. Leftists MEPs travel to visit jailed Catalan MEP
  4. Bulgaria may expel Russian diplomats over 'espionage'
  5. EU, China, others agree on WTO body to settle disputes
  6. EU Commission makes move against Poland on judges law
  7. Soros pledges $1bn for liberal universities
  8. Merkel: Germany unprepared for 2015 refugee crisis

European politicians caught with Russian 'fake likes'

Politicians and political parties in Europe have had bots generate fake 'likes', views, and comments to boost their online popularity, in what has been described as outright voter manipulation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. AI must have human oversight, MEPs recommend
  2. Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal
  3. Why do EU arms end up in Libya despite UN ban?
  4. Brexit deal to be signed, as sides poised for tough talks
  5. Timmermans urges EU governments to tax carbon
  6. Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote
  7. China spy suspect had EU permission to work as lobbyist
  8. EU to unveil 5G 'toolbox' to tackle security threats

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us