Netherlands - bars defy two-year old smoking ban..

July 1, 2010 - The smoking ban was introduced on July 1, 2008 primarily to protect employees from having to work in an unhealthy atmosphere. The ban was in force for restaurants, bars, cafes and the more than 700 coffee shops. (More than half of the Dutch population surveyed oppose to banning smoking in bars and cafes, reveals a European Commission research.)

Two years later nearly half of the Netherlands' 5,630 bars openly defy a smoking ban saying they risk financial ruin if they show puffing clients the door. (Netherlands - ban on smoking in bars and restaurants NOT enforced..)

According to recent figures from the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA), a government body, some 41 percent of Dutch bars and discos transgress [violate] the law.

"If I prevent people smoking in my bar, it would mean bankruptcy for sure," Gerhard Sannes, owner of De Kachel (The Stove) bar in Groningen in the north east of the country told AFP. "I tried it in the beginning, but my sales fell by 75 percent" in a two-month period, he said. Fined 1,200 euros (1,461 dollars) in February last year, Sannes said he would remain defiant.

"It is mostly small bars with no staff (apart from the owner) that do not respect the law," Wiel Maessen, secretary of the Save the Small Cafe Owners anti-ban group, told AFP. "They don't have the space or the money to install separate smoking areas."

Two different courts ruled last year that the ban, seeking to protect staff against passive smoking, unfairly discriminated against one-man operations that employed none. (Netherlands - spot checks on smoking in small cafes suspended temporarily..)

Those rulings were annulled, and the appeals court in the eastern city of Arnhem upheld the ban's general applicability earlier this month. Bar owners are seeking to challenge that judgement in the Supreme Court. "It is hard for small bars," concedes Inge Freriksen, a spokeswoman for the Dutch health ministry, adding that a new government may review the law given the recent court defeats. The centre-right liberal VVD, which won parliamentary elections on June 9, wants bars with no staff to determine their own smoking policies, a party official told AFP.

Reference: Dutch bars defy two-year-old smoking ban, Agence France-Presse (AFP), 6/30/2010.

Netherlands - related news briefs:
Netherlands - small bars can continue to ignore smoking ban..;
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Netherlands - lifted smoking ban for bars with no employees..;
Holland - smoking ban temporarily halted for smaller cafes run by their owners alone..;
Netherlands - spot checks on smoking in small cafes suspended temporarily..;
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Congratulations are in order: Netherlands, Romania & Alberta...
(Holland, Dutch)