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« Flight 205 now boarding | Main | Dutch amend smoking ban »

How the UK compares with Europe

The decision by the new government in Holland to amend the smoking ban introduced two years ago is very welcome, not least because it highlights the intransigence of politicians in the UK. It also gives us somewhere to go for long weekends, but that's another matter.

Just as important, how does the UK compare with countries other than Holland? Let's not beat about the bush. Smoking in public is restricted throughout Europe, but to a greater or lesser extent most countries provide exemptions to the ban in bars and, sometimes, restaurants, cafes and casinos.

Here are some examples:

* In venues greater than 80m² separate smoking rooms covering maximum 50% of surface area are permitted
* Venues between 50m² and 80m² may permit smoking provided the owner can prove that partitioning or separation of the premises is not possible
* Venues less than 50m² may decide to become either fully smoking or non-smoking

* In restaurants smoking is allowed in a separate smoking room in which only drinking is allowed
* In bars that do not serve food (only pre-packaged foods that keep at least three months are allowed) a smokers zone is permitted; it cannot take up more than 50% of the total surface of the establishment and needs to be equipped with a ventilation system
* Casino playing rooms are exempt from the smoking ban

* Smoking rooms with adequate ventilation (where food and drinks are not served) are permitted in venues larger than 40m²
* Small bars (less than 40m²) may permit smoking

* Smoking regulations at regional level usually allow for separate smoking rooms
* Some special restaurants and bars are exempt from the ban altogether
* In some states there are exemptions for small pubs or beer halls (Festzelte) or even for specially designated 'smoking restaurants'

* Segregated smoking rooms allowed as long as they cover less than half the space of the venue, with strict ventilation requirements

* In venues with an area less than 100m² the owner may permit smoking, as long as: (i) the smoking area is clearly designated; (ii) it is physically detached from the remaining facilities or has an autonomous ventilation mechanism; (iii) the direct ventilation to the exterior is assured by an air extraction system
* In venues with a total area of 100m² or more, owners may designate up to 30% of their total area as a smoking area or up to 40% in the case of a physically separated area, as long as the conditions (i), (ii) and (iii) are fulfilled and the area does not include spaces used exclusively for workers or areas where workers have to be permanently

* Smoking permitted in separate smoking rooms in restaurants and other places where food and drink are served; smoking room must occupy less than 50% of the total area and no serving or consumption of food and drinks will be permitted inside the smoking room

You get the picture - and I haven't even mentioned Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic or Latvia where exemptions remain reasonably generous. (The Czech Republic for example allows proprietors to decide whether to designate their premises as smoking or non-smoking, or provide structurally separated areas for smokers and non-smokers, and then visibly label their premises in accordance with specific signs.)

The point, rarely acknowledged by politicians in the UK, is that our smoking bans are more draconian than anywhere else in Europe with the exception of Ireland. Funny, that.

Reader Comments (21)

"...... our smoking bans are more draconian than anywhere else in Europe with the exception of Ireland. Funny, that."

Or - to put it another way - the victory of a (largely) socialist Intellectual Elite over a (largely) liberal Populace ('liberal' in its correct sense, naturally).

To THIS Englishman, THAT is a tragedy.

November 5, 2010 at 6:30 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Its a tragedy and a disgrace that England and Ireland have a total smoking ban when Belgium, the hub of the EU hitlers who brought in this stinking smoking ban in the first place, can now give us obedient fools the finger by allowing their own citizens indoor smoking venues.
Its ironic now that the 'world leaders' in Ireland that led the way for the smoking ban to be brought in all over Europe, have the begging bowl out for the free scraps dropping from their EU masters table to feed their deprived, when they distribute free cheese for the mice who said Yes, in a few weeks time.
England and Ireland would want to grow some balls and return the 'finger' compliment, before we become the laughing stocik of europe!

November 5, 2010 at 10:50 | Unregistered Commenterann

It is an undeniable fact that we here in the UK have a huge struggle on our hands regarding the smoking ban and the way it is implemented. As anyone can see from the above sets of facts and figure, we are indeed the poor man/weak man, of Europe.
It is all very well to jump on the bandwagon of blaming our politicians, but the real culprits here are ourselves, we sat back and let it happen in much the same way we let many other things happen, with the feeble excuse that "it had to happen didn't it", and "what can we do about it?" etc., etc..
Our pensions have been stolen? "Oh well, nothing we can do about it". We are being charged 60% interest on credit cards? "Well, what do you expect?". They are going to put an extra tax on flights. "I suppose it's only right in the end, after all...etc etc.," Good God we even cough up a death tax on our own houses for Christ sake. What sort of people are we?
One thing is for sure, and that is that we are not the same sort of people the British used to be, and we are nothing like our cousins in the rest of Europe, where they take to the streets and let their governments know what they think, and the way they will vote if those responsible do not start listening to them.
I shudder to think what that great man of English politics, Winston Churchill, would have thought, if the people of his day had acted like the British public do today. In one of his most famous speeches, made on 20th August 1940, he said, 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few'.
I am afraid we still have a conflict on our hands, that of regaining our freedom from those who wish to suppress it. And Churchill's words still make sense in today's conflict. We do indeed owe so much, but it is anger and bitterness that we owe, for the way we have been treated, and as for the few, they are not the brave few who Churchill saluted, but the few politicians and law makers, especially those in Brussels, who imposed this travesty of justice upon us.
The "so many" by the way, are us, and it is up to us to speak up for our rights, or better still, shout, like our European cousins, if we really want to see change.

November 5, 2010 at 13:30 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Re the recent decision of Spain to ban smoking in all the pubs starting on Jan 2nd 2011, there has been no mention of this in our media, obviously because of government cencorship (like any other smoking related issues) but I can't even find any info on the Forest website. But why not? This is a serious issue. There must be thousands of smokers booking spanish holidays this winter unaware that they will be banned from all the pubs. So come-on Forest, keep us informed PLEASE.

November 5, 2010 at 15:25 | Unregistered CommenterBarnie

I hope Simon that you will make our politicians aware of how draconian our nasty little ban is.

Ann - Incredulous isn't it...this whole thing began in Brussels and yet they have perhaps the most relaxed regime of all. I remember Nigel Farage being interviewed for the Politics Show, not far from the commission building happily smoking away inside a cafe...I nearly choked on my pipe! Good old Nige.

November 5, 2010 at 16:16 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Wikipedia has a comprehensive 'List of Smoking Bans' which seems to be up to date.
There are many more countries in Europe which have only partial bans. In fact, as far as I can see, only Ireland and the UK have full indoor bans. I have seen little or nothing regarding 'outdoor shelter restricitions'. Spain seems to be a special case in that its regions tend to be less centralised and more inclined to ignore central government bans than is usually the case - it would be interesting to see what would happen in Majorca to the local government elected officialscentred in Calvia if they ignored the new rules. Would they be jailed? We wait to see what develops.

How is it that we have been aflicted with these inhuman laws? Do you know what I think? I think that it is because we were never invaded by the Nazis. I think that if the Nazis had invaded and we had had to live under their rule with jews and homosexuals and others being carted off to concentration camps and extermination centres, we would have a much less dictatorial system of government.

November 5, 2010 at 19:20 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Junican. You have no doubt seen my own thoughts linking dictatorship and Spain before. Let me explain.

The left wing health fanatics in the Spanish parliament have been trying to make the anti smoking law more like ours for years. There have been two attempts so far, 1st January 2010 and 26th June 2010. Neither of them completed the final stage in thjeir judicial system.

As I said in an earlier blog, I will let you all know what the Spanish bar and club owners are saying when I return from Spain in a few weeks.

Will it happen? Again, I reiterate, Spain was under a fascist dictator until 1977. Spanish people have never forgotten Franco, who got help from Nazi Germany in the Spanish civil war.

What will happen in Spain on 2nd January 2011 (not the 1st to allow for New Year celebrations)!

November 5, 2010 at 22:21 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

This country has become a thouroughly unpleasant place to live in many ways. If you spend a bit of time driving through other EU countries it really hits home how vile this place has become. You lose that constant feeling of being spied upon with some state jobsworth waiting to pounce on you for the most trivial misdemeanour, you can park outside a cafe and sit and enjoy a cigarette without spy cars and cameras watching your every move and hoping to fine you. You are made to feel welcome and you hardly see a Policeman. Without doubt we live under the most authoritarian, repressive regime in the EU, if not the western world.

November 5, 2010 at 22:57 | Unregistered CommenterJames Trent

I agree with Peter.

Unfortunately though, most of those who stood up for our rights have either emigrated, or become too old to fight anymore.

I pity the future for our country with the majority of our MPs (not all) spineless and looking for a career, rather than looking to stand up for their constituents.

November 5, 2010 at 23:48 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

Peter -

I'm more than happy to agree with practically everything you say. That's because it's all true. Postwar prosperity has made us (morally) fat and lazy, whilst job insecurity, property inflation, and the growing debt burden have made us fearful and self-obsessed.

A creeping awarenesss of the true nature of politics (at all levels) in our Facade Democracy has also led to a deep and destructive cynicism.

But the ESSENTIAL nature of our problem is that whereas in 1940 'we' were facing an identifiable enemy - with a publicly declared ideology, and a zone of influence and occupation that could be seen on any map - today the 'enemy', scientifically and economically enriched beyond even Hitler's wildest fantasies, is better organised, infintely more powerful, almost impossible to locate in the cross-hairs, and in possession of a Fifth Column deeply entrenched in our midst. As if that wasn't enough, many otherwise good-hearted (but short-sighted) souls have been seduced into fighting his cause without even being aware of the fact.

In such a world, shooting the politicians - a sport I think I could get to enjoy - probably makes as much strategic sense as bumping off a handful of Von Runstedt's filing clerks.

Mind you, it's a start - and a growing band of citizens at least now realises that we ARE at war.

It won't be over by Christmas, though (even with American help).............................

November 6, 2010 at 0:06 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

A recent survey reveals doubts over Turkey's Smoking ban. It was revealed that the Turks generally support the rights of smokers, I do feel the mood could change . Gary

November 6, 2010 at 3:22 | Unregistered Commenterlisa symmons


That thought had occured to me.

I wondered how they kept the German people quiet.

"As early as 1935, workers were aware of the consequences that ‘subversive’ activity would have on their families. A blacksmith in 1943 expressed the problem simply: “My wife is still alive, that’s all. It’s only for her sake that I don’t shout it right in their faces…You know these blackguards can only do all this because each of us has a wife or mother at home that he’s got to think of…people have too many things to consider.
After all, you’re not alone in this world. And these SS devils exploit the fact.”

"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.

For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.
He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague."

November 6, 2010 at 10:34 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

"A murderer is less to fear."

And the same could be said of a Terrorist, Rose !

Thanks for a beautiful quote - not least because it points to one of the subtler lessons of the German Experience in the Thirties and Forties, and one which tends to get ignored in favour of a more clamorous British/American Good Guys versus German Bad Guys treatment. THAT is not the Lesson of History so much as the Message of the Cartoon Strip.

On the subject of 'the traitor', the most painful irony of all is that in THIS country - since the Thirties - it is the Left-leaning intellectual class, the one frequently heard to crow about ITS triumph over the horrors of Nazism, that has done most to make respectable precisely those 'organising' and 'scientific' principles of Socialism (Society as a Machine) which drove out the ideals of Freedom embodied (if imperfectly) in the English Liberalism of the 19th century (Society as a Living Organism), and which alone made Nazism possible.

Sadly, they are MUCH too clever - even today - to see it.

And the People are much too dim and distracted to make them – whereas in a truly ‘educated’ Society these facts would be so obvious that they wouldn’t even need to be stated.

But that’s ANOTHER lesson we have yet to learn.

November 6, 2010 at 11:54 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Martin V

You may well be right about the cartoon strip, not everyone fitted in it seems.

Teenage rebels who fought Nazis are honoured at last - 2005
"Vilified 'Edelweiss Pirates' are hailed as resistance heroes.

A group of rebellious teenagers who formed a resistance network against the Nazis are being honoured after almost 60 years of neglect by the German authorities, who considered them no better than common criminals.

The Edelweiss Pirates, as they were known, were working class teenagers from western Germany who fought the Hitler Youth and helped resistance groups, risking imprisonment and death.

The Gestapo declared the group criminals in the 1940s, a tag which was allowed to remain for 60 years."

"After the war there were no judges in Germany so the old Nazi judges were used and they upheld the criminalisation of what we did and who we were."

"They not only produced and distributed leaflets, and wrote anti-war graffiti, they also took on groups of Hitler Youth in street battles and stole food, supplies and even some explosives to supply small local adult resistance groups.

Groups from different areas would meet in the countryside, to swap information gained from illegally listening to the BBC world service, or to plan leaflet drops in each other's towns so the local police would not recognise them"

"For the Anti-Nazi youth movements- the working class Edelweiss Pirates and the bourgeois Hamburg Swing Youth alike - the constant cigarette seems to have been almost a badge of resistance and was referred to as a sure indicator of their degeneracy in the surveillance reports produced by the Hitler Youth."

I had never heard of them before.

November 6, 2010 at 14:48 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

Rose -

Those who have resisted Tyranny anywhere have always earned my admiration, but none more so than those in Germany at this time. The Germans have made one or two films on this subject, but Hollywood seems not to have been interested in non-Holocaust-related material. And foreign films rarely air on British TV these days - modern audiences being incapable (apparently) of dealing with subtitles. Understandable, I suppose: those brought up on a diet of popcorn and Diet Coke might just find such fare a little too rich for their palate.

November 6, 2010 at 18:48 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Sure, the Spanish lived under dictatorship and learnt the same lessons as the Germans... until a socialist government got into power.

Like New Labour they are introducing the most drastic of bans. Command and control is in the DNA of these socialists. But I suspect that, unlike the British, many Spaniards will vote with two fingers.

November 8, 2010 at 18:17 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

I agree with James Trent. The older I get the more I dislike this country and its draconian laws. In three years time, when my husband becomes a pensioner, we are taking our grey pound and spending it in another country, one which is not so hypocritical.

How come there are three designated smoking rooms in the house of commons, and the Palace of Westminster is exempt from the current smoking laws????

I think Mr Binley should bring attempt to bring in a vote that the Palace of Westminster lives by the same laws as the rest of the population. If we have to smoke outside in the cold and wet, then they should too. They'd soon amend the ban then!!

November 8, 2010 at 18:41 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Collins

Re the extended smoking ban in Spain, I live in Spain for part of the year and I can tell you that the proposed extended ban due to start in January 2011 is deeply unpopular and unlikely to work. The socialist government (PSOE) is completely incompetent and unemployment in Spain is the highest in the developed world so what do they do, decide to get rid of a partial smoking ban that works very well and implement a new one that will force even more people into bankruptcy and unemployment - this will give you some insight as to how idiotic they are. I have been liaising with the Spanish hospitality industry and they have put up one hell of a fight and will never give up. There is hope, PSOE have more chance of getting on the next space shuttle than winning the next general election (they actually make New Labour look popular) and it is highly likely that PP (convervative party) will amend this new leglistation if the wheels don't completely come off in the meantime.

November 8, 2010 at 20:46 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

I agree with James completely.

My only question is where does he live where he actually sees a policeman? The only ones we see are those sitting with camera's trying to catch out innocent motorists or those flying by on blues and twos, no doubt because they are late for a tea break, their lunch or their shift change!

You can count on NOT seeing one if there is anything potentially dangerous going on!

November 9, 2010 at 8:26 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

It's just like every other law which comes from the EU - gold-plated by our very own Little Hitlers, which we seem to be very good at producing in this country! We British have lost our balls and there is little sign that we'll ever grow them back!

November 9, 2010 at 11:13 | Unregistered CommenterLorraine

Lets get some hard hitting truths about the total ban on the table under the bright
lights of scrutiny.Let us ,just for once, lay aside all the mutterrings ,twitterings,
facebookings and general bloggerings we have all had to wade through in recent years.
Who is to blame for the survival of the total ban?,lets get real,lets get down to the nitty gritty
A The Publicans........................To cowardly
B The Smokers..........................To stupid
C The Campaigns.......................To disjointed

A How many publicans have shown some fight .....................50,60,70 ?
B How many smokers have given their MP some grief............100,200,300.?
C How many canpaigns have remained in their digital prisons ..5,10, all ?

When,if ever, the various organisations and campaigns put aside their differences
if only for the duration and commit themselves to a concerted plan of action,
then and only then will the apathetic see a cause they can join in and support.

To whom shall we send the angry ones who think there is nobdy bothered.

The ban can be amended
The ban must be amended
The ban will be amended........................................IF

November 9, 2010 at 16:58 | Unregistered CommenterFreeCorps

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