Austria Ponders Stricter Smoking Ban

Austria’s health minister wants to ban smoking in all restaurants

Austria's minister of health has announced a plan to completely ban smoking in all restaurants by 2018.

Health minister Alois Stöger says Austria’s partial smoking bans are not doing the job, and he’s announced his intention to push through a complete ban on smoking in restaurants by 2018.

According to The Local, partial smoking bans have been in effect since 2008. Smoking is technically banned in all enclosed public spaces, but there are exceptions for some bars, cafes, and restaurants, and smoking in the workplace is even allowed as long as nobody objects. Though the rules should theoretically cut down dramatically on smoking in bars and restaurants, the ban is reportedly widely ignored by authorities and staff at bars and cafes.

A spokesperson for the Vienna hospitality industry says a more comprehensive smoking ban is unnecessary, but Austria’s health counselors and Medical Association are completely behind the plan.

According to the Austrian Medical Association, studies indicate young Austrians would smoke only half as much if they could not smoke in cafés, bars, and restaurants. There is also concern about the effects of secondhand smoke on the hospitality workers who have to be around customers’ smoke all day.

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"Austria must take the next step," said Vienna health counselor Sonja Wehsely. "A smoking ban in restaurants is already normal in Europe."