July 5, 2010 - Back in February 2010 we reported that the Bavarian government says it will hold a referendum on smoking in cafés and beer halls. More than 9 million voters in the southern German state will be allowed to cast their ballots on July 4, 2010. (Germany - Bavaria referendum on smoking in cafés and beer halls on July 4, 2010..)
The Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich(Bavarian capital in Upper Bavaria) is to become smoke-free after voters in a referendum in the southern German state of Bavaria opted for a total smoking ban.
However, the ban will not come into effect for this year's 200th anniversary of the beer-guzzling festival.
With ballots counted in all 96 districts from the Sunday referendum, the anti-smoking camp had 61 per cent of the vote although turnout was a low 37.7 per cent. A simple majority was needed for victory.
The result will lead to new rules that will ban smoking in all pubs, restaurants and beer tents, without exception. Existing laws allow smokers to light up in beer tents and pubs with special smoking rooms.
The referendum, in which about 9.4 million people were eligible to vote, sparked a furious debate with those in favour of a total ban arguing on emotive health grounds and those against putting forward arguments about freedom of choice.
Those in favour of stamping out smoking hope a ban in Bavaria will lead to stricter rules across the country where various loopholes in smoking legislation have led to existing rules being only weakly enforced.
According to local media, authorities have already announced any potential ban would not be in force for this year's festival, which last year attracted 5.7 million visitors from all around the world.
Reference: Last gasp for beer fest as Munich votes to ban smoking, Agence France-Presse (AFP),7/4/2010.
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