Dutch cafe owners protest smoking ban..

December 5, 2008 - Dutch (Netherlands, Holland) cafe owners took to the streets of The Hague on Saturday, 11/27/2008 in protest of a smoking ban which they claim has seen business drop by up to a third The protest was organized by "Save the Small Cafe Owners", a group which claims that it had 5,000 participants. However, police estimates put the number at around 1,500. Protesters brandished banners denouncing the "dictatorship" of Ab Klink, the Dutch health minister.

The cafe owners want the ban, which went into effect in July 2008, scrapped arguing they do not have the space nor the funds to build specially-ventilated smoking areas. "A cigarette is part of cafe culture," said Wiel Maessen, secretary for the cafe owners group. "The cafes are really struggling. Soon we will find ourselves having to ask for social welfare," added Marina Bosma from the western city of Leiden.

Some opposition lawmakers have lent their support to the cafe owners' complaints. Over the past few weeks many cafe owners have deliberately broken the law by placing ashtrays back on their tables. Some owners pool money to help fellow owners pay any fines.

Klink recently called on prosecutors to do more and step up their pursuit of cafe owners in breach of the law. Owners who continue to flout the smoking ban face fines of up to EUR 18,500 (USD 23,522.68) or even temporary closure.

The smokers all pay a certain amount of money when entering the pub so that the pub owner can pay the fine.

November 6, 2008 - -- Members of the Dutch Christian Democratic party, which is the largest in the Dutch coalition Cabinet, said they are asking Klink to lift the smoking ban for small bars near the borders with Germany and Belgium because the establishments are losing business to bars in the other countries that allow smoking inside. (Dutch party wants smoking ban exceptions, upi.com, 11/6/2008.

November 21, 2008 - Cafe and bar owners in the Dutch town of Tilburg have announced plans to photograph smoking inspectors and post the photographs on the internet. They say the move is not intended to pillory the inspectors but to let other cafe owners know who they are. The proprietors are members of an action group protesting against the smoking ban, which was introduced on1 July 2008. (Bar owners to photograph smoking inspectors, Expatica.com, 11/21/2008.

Reference: Dutch cafe owners rally against smoking ban, msn news, 11/29/2008.

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