No More Public Smoking In The German State Of Bavaria
Filed in Politics
Smoking is a hot topic in Germany at the moment, thanks to a vote in Bavaria on July 3rd to put a new public smoking ban in place. It is being called one of the strictest in Germany, and has commentators wondering what this will mean for the weak smoking bans currently in place in the rest of the country.
Smoking bans, after all, are hardly new in German. You can’t smoke in federal buildings, and there were a number of bans on smoking in restaurants and pubs passed in 2008.
However, the way things work in Germany, the national government doesn’t handle the smoking laws. Instead, each individual state has their own rules, and some of them are more strict than others.
Some of them are not very strict at all . . . and even the 2008 rules were rather quickly relaxed.
It’s not because Germany is a country of die-hard smokers. Yes, the smoky beer hall is a tradition in some areas, but just like people in the rest of the world my fellow Germans and I enjoy meals and public spaces that are smoke free.
The larger issue, of course, is that we Germans don’t always appreciate being told what we can and can’t do. Restaurant owners and bar managers also feel that smoking bans hurt their businesses by driving away customers and raising expenses as they need to create new spaces for smokers. So the smoking bans become controversial, and a subject of hot debates.
Many establishments work around the smoking bans in Germany by turning their businesses into private clubs, where smoking is still allowed. You may find yourself surprised to get a ticket or a membership card when you sit down for a drink or a meal, but it’s just a way to help skirt the local laws.
The bigger deal with the smoking ban in Bavaria is that it has been extended to include Munich‘s famous beer tents in the fall. For 2010, the authorities are saying they won’t do much in the way of ban enforcement, but for 2011, expect your trip to the Oktoberfest to be a smoke free experience!
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