Why our smoking ban had to schtop
06 Nov 2010
By WIEL MAESSEN
THE Netherlands has become the first country in Europe to overturn its smoking ban.
A new liberal government is to allow smoking, though only in small owner-run bars with no other staff.
Here one of the Dutch campaigners, from the Foundation To Save Small Bar Owners, explains why he is so pleased with the change.
WE had a blanket ban on smoking brought in here in 2008. It unfairly attacked small bar owners who couldn’t afford to build outdoor smoking areas.
And small bars, or pubs as we call them too, are a huge part of Dutch life. There are more than 3,000 of them.
So two smokers’ rights organisations decided to join forces with the bar owners.
We felt it was a bad law.
I know of many bars that never even put their ashtrays away. But now it is official and people are delighted
The latest polls say between 70 and 80 per cent of Dutch people are behind this partial lifting of the ban.
This is great news for small bars and the common man. Lower-class people tend to drink in these places and they were being punished.
Higher-standard pubs and restaurants don’t mind being smokeless. But small bars have an important social function. Public health workers tell us smoking is bad for you. Well, the ban is very bad for your social and psychological health. It is much more complex than they tell us.
I hope that the same thing happens in the UK now.
But there are big differences between our two countries. There are lots of laws in the Netherlands but they are not enforced so strictly.
The fine here was only 300 euros for a landlord’s first offence.
That is quite different from the tens of thousands of pounds you can be fined in the UK for allowing smoking.
Smoking is bad. But it is more complicated than just saying “smoking kills”. A lot of lies come from the anti-smoking lobby. They have a lot of money behind them from the pharmaceutical companies who make aids to help people quit smoking.
We don’t accept there is any damage from second-hand smoke. I celebrated the news about the ban being lifted by lighting a cigarette.
I vow I will only give up the day that the smoking ban is overturned completely.
Dutch smoking ban reversed for small pubs
The Netherlands has become the first European country to overturn an unpopular smoking ban imposed on the nation’s bars and cafés two years ago.
04 Nov 2010
By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels
The authorities are to amend legislation to allow smokers to light up again in small owner-operated bars, called pubs by the Dutch, which are less than 753.5 sq ft in size and which have no other staff.
Bowing to resistance and claims that the ban was driving small Dutch pubs out of business, an incoming coalition government has also cancelled 280 fines levied during a campaign of civil disobedience by smokers and bar-owners.
The relaxation of the smoking ban will cover more than 2,000 bars, many of which had been in open defiance of a prohibition that Dutch people thought went against the grain of their country’s liberal reputation.
Wiel Maessen, the leader of an anti-ban protest group representing 1,250 small bars, said: “I lit an extra cigarette when I heard the news. But the fight will not be over until the ban is lifted for all pubs.”
Edith Schippers, the Dutch health minister, promised that bitterly resented smoking checks in pubs by food and consumer safety inspectors would end.
“The new law will allow consumer choice. A sign will inform customers whether or not they are allowed to smoke on the premises,” she said.
Clean Air Netherlands, a public health lobbying group backed by the Dutch medical associations, has launched a campaign to reinstate the ban.
Small pubs welcome lifting of Dutch smoking ban
29 September 2010
Owners of small pubs in the Netherlands have welcomed the lifting of a smoking ban imposed on the hospitality industry in 2008. The partial scrapping of the measure was announced on Tuesday.
The incoming rightwing government is responding to persistent complaints from one-man businesses who argued that the smoking ban was meant to guarantee staff a smoke-free working environment. Since they had no employees, their small pubs didn’t need the smoking ban, the owners claimed.
The ban will remain in force, however, for pubs, restaurants and the like which are run with personnel.
Secretary Wiel Maessen of the 1250 small pubs’ umbrella group KHO said “I lit an extra cigarette when I heard the news.” He added that despite his satisfaction on behalf of his members, the fight would not be over until the ban was lifted for the entire sector.
NL: Late Breaking News!
June 10, 2010
According to a last minute email from The Smoker’s Club, European Regional Director, Wiel Maessen, we have some GOOD NEWS from the Dutch!
They have just had elections, and the party (VVD: The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) that is the strongest critic of their smoking ban has now officially captured the most seats of any party in their parliament! One of their party’s speakers actually gave a rousing presentation to the TICAP conference in March and it looks like we may all have the Dutch Boy to thank for sticking his finger in the antismoking dike and sinking it! (Well, ok, technically he saved the dike from sinking. Well, ok, not really from sinking but from being sunk. Well, ok, not re… you get the general idea: YAY for the Dutch!)
Meanwhile, the party seen as the chief supporters/engineers of the ban, the Christian Democrats got DESTROYED! They went from holding 41 seats down to 21 seats!
According to Wiel, “It’s practically certain now that the blanket smoking ban (though DSR’s were allowed) will be amended so that small pubs can allow smoking again. The small pubs have been fighting the smoking ban because they are not able to install DSRs because of size or financial reasons, leaving them at a competitive disadvantage to the bigger bars.”
A side note: As you’ll read in the linked article below, heavy rains caused the lowest voter turnout in years: just 74% of eligible voters voted. Heh… when was the last time you saw an American election that ever managed to get 74% of eligible voters to the polls?
Netherlands slow to ban smoking
By political editor John Tyler
Dutch smokers are feeling put upon. A new law is due to come into effect next summer which will drastically restrict smoking in restaurants and bars. An estimated 30 percent of Dutch adults still smoke, and they’re none too happy with the latest developments.
As the restrictions have increased, so have groups fighting for smokers rights. Groups such as Against the Smoking Ban, Forces Smokers Club, Smokers Revolution and The Party Against Nannyism.
The Party Against Nannyism’s founder Kees Uitenbroek brought a petition to parliament this week with nearly 100,000 signatures calling for the new restrictions to be scrapped. Mr Uitenbroek says he resents what he sees as government meddling.
“I think everyone is threatened by this kind of government because the government is more and more interfering in our private lives. I smoke two or three packages a day. It’s not good for you, I know. I take the risk and it’s something I do. And once I’m in a bar with the owner of a bar who smokes the same as I do, what use is there in making a smoking ban.”
But the new restrictions proposed by the government are widely supported in parliament, and with a few minor changes are likely to become law. Cisca Joldersma of the Christian Democrat party explains why she feels such restrictions on smoking are necessary.
“For my party it’s very important that people who suffer from secondhand smoke now have the possibility to enter a restaurant, to enter a bar and they’re not bothered by smoke. I think this is a good compromise that we find in the Netherlands.”
But even this Dutch compromise, which aims at protecting employees from secondhand smoke, will not go as far as other European countries have gone. The new law stipulates that restaurants and bars can only allow smoking in rooms separated from the rest of the establishment. But the Dutch law also says staff will not be allowed to enter the smoking areas.
Once considered a forerunner in smoking regulation, the Netherlands is now in danger of being left behind, even with the new smoking restrictions. Dr Elizabeth van Gennip, the director of the Centre for Expertise for Tobacco Control (STIVORO), says the Neherlands has been left behind by nearly all its neighbours.
“If you look at the countries all around us, then you see in Ireland, it was the first in 2004. But also England, Scotland, in Norway, Sweden, Italy, you see France is coming up 1 January 2008. In Germany they’re starting, and in Spain. In all these countries you see this ban on smoking in the hospitality sector. So actually if you look at the map it’s actually astonishing that the Netherlands is so slow in this respect.”
The Netherlands may be slow, but next summer’s new restrictions will help bring this country into line with its neighbours. Much to the chagrin of people like Kees Uitenbroek of the Party Against Nannyism. After presenting his petition in the parliament building, where he was not allowed to smoke, we headed for the exit. Before we were out the door, Mr Uitenbroek was rolling a cigarette.
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