March 16, 2011 - Belgium's top court decided Tuesday, March 15th to widen the country's smoking ban in public spaces to cover all cafes and the kingdom's nine casinos from July 1.
Smoking has been banned in work places, restaurants and pubs that serve food since 2009, while temporary exemptions had been granted to casinos and cafes that only serve snacks such as crisps and peanuts.
Background:The Flemish Cancer League claims that the ban with exemptions for some pubs until 2014 is discriminatory in its present form and is in violation of the Belgian Constitution. The League is raising the matter before the
The Belgian Parliament has decided to postpone a total ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants until 2014. Professor Simon Capewell, speaking on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology, described the decision as “catastrophic”. Based on their research and extrapolation from observed efforts of an effective ban in other countries, this regrettable decision will result in 5,000 additional deaths and over 10,000 non-fatal heart attacks and strokes in Belgium until 2014. (5000 Deaths : A Catastrophic, Regrettable Decision In Belgium, Red Orbit, 12/9/2009)
A total ban on smoking in pubs and cafés has been postponed until 2014. From January 2010 smoking will be banned in pubs where you can enjoy prepared meals. Smokers will continue to be able to light up in pubs where only drinks are served.
As of 01 January 2010, the new law will mean a ban on smoking in all places of work and in all places accessible by the public. Smoking in pubs where meals are served will also be outlawed. However, smoking will still be permitted in casinos, pubs and nightclubs where only pre-packaged foodstuffs are up for sale.
Belgium - total ban on smoking in pubs and cafes postponed until 2014..
The court decided to lift the exemptions but gave establishments until June 30 to "adapt to the general smoking ban."
The judges ruled that the government failed to prove that pubs would be harmed by a general smoking ban, saying that drawing distinctions between establishments was actually harmful to competition.
The court also stated that the protection of the health of employees and non-smokers should apply to casinos even though they serve a "specific" clientele.
Smokers will still find a corner to light up: Special smoking rooms equipped with air vents in restaurants and other public buildings are still permitted since smokers are not supposed to use them, the judges said.
References: Belgium expands smoking ban to all cafes, casinos, Agence France Presse (AFP), france24.com, 3/15/2011; Belgium Adopts Full Smoking Ban, Gulf Stream Blues, 3/16/201.
Belgium related news brief: France - cheaper cigarettes close by in Belgium..