Netherlands - small bars can continue to ignore smoking ban..

May 5, 2010 - Small bars in the Netherlands (Dutch, Holland) can continue to ignore the smoking ban, as Dutch Health Minister Ab Klink says he will not take new measures to enforce it. A ministry spokesperson told the daily NRC Handelsblad that there is "no need to change current policy". Previously, the Dutch government had indicated they would change the law to keep bars smoke free..

The smoking ban, aimed at protecting employees' health, came into force in July 2008. Small bars, which are often unable to create the required separate zones for smokers and non-smokers, increasingly allow their clients to smoke indoors. The Supreme Court decided in April that a number of convicted owners who broke the smoking law should not be acquitted. They will have to re-appear before the court in June.

Figures collected by opinion pollster Intraval show that 41 percent of bar owners are flaunting the no-smoking law, and the percentage is increasing steadily. Bars are the exception, as hotels, fast food shops, restaurants and sports clubs are all obeying the rules.

The Dutch Food Safety Authority is checking whether patrons are allowed to smoke inside bars. The bar owner is cautioned twice and, if the smoking continues, the authority can impose successive fines rising from an initial 300 euros (385.35 USD) to 2,400 euros (3,082.91 USD).

Reference: Dutch minister admits smoking ban is partial failure, © Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 5/4/2010.

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Congratulations are in order: Netherlands, Romania & Alberta...