Tuesday

2nd Jun 2020

EU parliament does u-turn on smoking ban

  • Lighting up: no longer a problem in the European parliament (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Parliament's new leadership has dropped a complete ban on smoking in the House and decided to re-introduce smoking areas, with critics saying the move sends a negative message just as the EU is boosting an anti-smoking drive.

The ban on smoking inside the EU parliament took force at the beginning of 2007 but after the mid-January reshuffle in the assembly's office - consisting of the president and 14 vice-presidents - the new leaders agreed to set up special smoking areas.

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 subscribe as a group

French Green MEP and vice-president Gerard Onesta was heavily outvoted on keeping the ban. He said the new rules would not only send a "horrible political signal" but could also be more costly, as they will require special air filters in the designated areas, AFP news agency reported.

The move comes just after the European Commission announced it is considering an EU-wide smoking ban in public places, following member states such as Ireland, Italy, Malta and Sweden where similar steps have been taken.

But the six week-long parliament smoking ban was widely flouted in any case, with MEPs lighting up in their private offices and in the corridors outside social gatherings and with many security and catering staff too timid to take the members on.

According to EU statistics, more than 79,000 adults die in the EU each year due to passive smoking which is the main argument used by those calling for legislation banning smoking in all enclosed public areas and workplaces including bars and restaurants.

The European Parliament has hosted a number of events and voted on several reports highlighting the negative consequences of smoking, such as a 2002 resolution on the "prevention of smoking and on initiatives to improve tobacco control."

In the resolution, MEPs argued that everyone has the right to breathe clean air and urged strict controls, including bans on smoking in the workplace and on tobacco vending machines.

Europeans cannot shake suicidal habit

It killed 695,000 people in the EU last year. But despite bans and gruesome labels, the number of smokers is hardly going down.

Future of Europe Conference: Council urged to move now

MEPs want to launch the delayed two-year event in September, which would require a joint position of the three main EU institutions before summer. EU commissioner Maroš Šefčovič is optimistic about reaching an EU Council's position under the Croatian presidency.

Feature

Children? Only if state permits it, says Romanian mayor

The mayor of the Romanian city of Targu Mures has said that the state should screen would-be parents for proof of a stable workplace, financial resources, basic education and the legal minimum age required to care for children.

Feature

New year, old problems for one of EU's poorest places

The year is off to a rocky start in Vaslui, one of EU's most impoverished regions and Romania's poorest county, where two 12-year olds were found in alcohol-induced coma after having spent their Christmas carol-singing money on alcohol.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens to use army to crush unrest in US
  2. Trump wants Russia back in G7-type group
  3. Iran: Fears of second wave as corona numbers rise again
  4. WHO: Overuse of antibiotics to strengthen bacterial resistance
  5. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  6. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  7. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  8. France reopening bars and parks next week

Feature

How West learnt from East to wear face masks

For Asian observers, not wearing face masks represents the lack of social cohesion, failure of effective government prevention strategies and comprehensive solidarity.

Coronavirus

Commission suspends mask deliveries over defects

The European Commission suspended future deliveries of masks for member states - after some countries reported that the masks did not meet EU's standards. Earlier this month, the commission started sending 1.5m masks to 17 EU countries and the UK.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Malta fiddles on migrants, as Libya burns
  2. Borrell: EU doesn't need to choose between US and China
  3. Post-Brexit and summer travel talks This WEEK
  4. State-level espionage on EU tagged as 'Very High Threat'
  5. Beethoven vs Virus: How his birthplace Bonn is coping
  6. EU's new migration pact must protect people on the move
  7. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  8. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us