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Netherlands: Draft Smoking Ban Legislation Sent to Council of State

(July 31, 2013) On July 9, 2013, the State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport, Martin van Rijn, sent draft legislation on amending the Tobacco Act to reinstate a ban on smoking in all bars and cafes, regardless of size, to the Council of State (Raad van State), the Cabinet’s advisory body. (Smoking Ban Bill Goes to Advisory Body, EXPATICA.COM (July 9, 2013).)

Small establishments that have no staff, which “began flouting the smoking ban as soon as it was introduced in July 2008,” had been exempted from the ban in subsequent years. (Id.) The Dutch government introduced this exemption in November 2010 by repealing the relevant section of the Tobacco Act and requiring only that the businesses post signs indicating that smoking is allowed on the premises; the amendment to the Act was decreed on June 14, 2011, and entered into effect on August 30, 2011. (Netherlands, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights; Tabakswet (Mar. 10, 1988, as last amended effective Jan. 1, 2013), OVERHEID.NL; Besluit uitvoering rookvrije werkplek, horeca en andere ruimten [Decree Implementing Smoke-Free Workplaces, Restaurants and Other Areas] (Apr. 4, 2008, in force July 1, 2008), OVERHEID.NL; Besluit van 14 juni 2011, houdende wijziging van het Besluit uitvoering rookvrije werkplek, horeca en andere ruimten [Decree of June 14, 2011, Amending theDecree Implementing Smoke-Free Workplaces, Restaurants and Other Areas], OVERHEID.NL.)

However, in February 2013, the Dutch Parliament voted to reverse the exemption and extend the smoking ban to all bars, restaurants, and cafes, no matter their size. (Smoking Ban to Be Reinstated Across Cafes and Bars of All Sizes, THE AMSTERDAM HERALD (Feb. 12, 2013).) In March, the Court of Appeal in The Hague affirmed that the smoking ban applied to all cafes, without exception, and in May the Dutch government announced its plan to reinstate the ban in the small establishments by July 2014, “except for enclosed areas with no service.” (Netherlands, supra; Dutch Association of CAN v. Netherlands [in English, re Court of Appeal of The Hague ruling of Mar. 26, 2013] (last visited July 30, 2013) [CAN is the Club Actieve Nietrokers,(Club of Active Nonsmokers).]

The Dutch Health and Safety Inspectorate issued figures indicating that about 73% of bars, cafes, and clubs in the Netherlands now ban smoking, as opposed to 61% found to be in compliance with the ban at the end of 2012. The number of cafes that have special sealed-off areas reserved for smoking has reportedly doubled. (More Cafes Are Smoke Free, but 35% StillBreak the Rules, DUTCH NEWS.NL (July 2, 2013).)