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Netherlands: Health Ministry Proposal to Amend Anti-Smoking Law

(Sept. 16, 2009) Dutch newspapers reported on September 10, 2009, that the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, Ab Klink, has made a proposal to change the anti-smoking law to apply anew to owner-operator bars and cafés. Two recent court rulings stated that the law is not applicable to such establishments “because the law is designed to protect employees; if there are no employees, then the law does not apply.” (Health Minister to Relax Smoking Ban, RADIO NETHERLANDS WORLDWIDE, Sept. 10, 2009, available at

In addition the Minister has proposed relaxing the ban on smoking in bars and cafés if they install ventilation systems that can eliminate all of the cigarette smoke and produce clean air. A lawyer who represents the smoking cafés stated of the proposal that “a great deal will depend on the legal formulation of the regulations,” and that the ventilation system idea “depends on the clean air norm that the minister is demanding. It simply isn't possible to make the air 100 percent clean anywhere.” (Id.) At least on paper, tobacco smoking has been banned in Dutch hotels, restaurants, cafés, and bars, among other venues, since July 1, 2008. (Dutch Smoking Ban Goes into Force, BBC NEWS, July 1, 2008, available at; see also Tobacco Law (Tabakswet) (of Mar. 10, 1988, in force on Jan. 1, 1990, as amended) [in Dutch], (last visited Sept. 11, 2009); Netherlands, WHO INTERNATIONAL DIGEST OF HEALTH LEGISLATION,
(last visited Sept. 11, 2009).)