23rd May 2019

Brussels wants EU-wide smoking ban in pubs and cafés

  • Passive smoking kills some 80,000 people every year in the EU, according to the commission (Photo: wikipedia)

The European Commission is planning to start consultations on a possible EU-wide ban on smoking in all work places, but any legislative proposal on the issue is unlikely to happen during the term of the current commission, the EU executive said on Monday (27 October).

"[EU social affairs] commissioner Vladimir Spidla would like to see a ban in all work places on smoking, for both health and safety reasons. At this very early stage of discussion, we are planning to consult social partners on this issue, meaning employers and trade unions," Chantal Hughes, a spokeswoman for Mr Spidla told journalists in Brussels.

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She explained, however, that if Brussels were to have a legislative proposal on this topic, this would only occur after the next European Commission is appointed, which will be in autumn next year.

"[But] it is important to start the debate and get the ball rolling," she stressed.

Currently, only a few member states – such as Ireland, Italy, Spain, France and the UK – have banned smoking in public places, and the scope of the different bans vary from country to country.

"We have a duty to ensure that all workplaces are safe and secure. At this stage, we don't think that is the case, which is why the commissioner would like to see a ban in all workplaces," said Ms Hughes.

The scope of the possible commission proposal has not been determined yet, but "clearly one of the areas we would like to see covered is bars, restaurants, pubs and so on, where workers are exposed on a daily basis to passive smoking," the spokeswoman added.

According to commission figures, smoking is "the single largest cause of avoidable death in the EU," accounting for over half a million deaths per year in the 27-member bloc alone, and over a million deaths in Europe as a whole.

Additionally, passive smoking kills some 80,000 people every year in the EU, and "it is estimated that 25 percent of all cancer deaths and 15 percent of all deaths [in the EU] could be attributed to smoking," Brussels says.

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