Following a ruling of the Supreme Court this morning at 10:00, all smoking rooms in the Netherlands are now banned.
Since July 1, 2008, a smoking ban has been applied in the hospitality industry in the Netherlands – with the exception of specially designated smoking areas. The anti-smoking association Clean Air Nederland (CAN) went to court to remove this exception. They argued that it was in contravention of a World Health Organisation (WHO) treaty which the Netherlands had also signed.
Legal history of the case
The court of The Hague had already ruled in favour of CAN, but the government decided to appeal to the Supreme Court. This morning the Supreme Court rejected the appeal and ruled that smoking rooms are not legal.
A few months ago, the Supreme-Advocate, the legal advisor to the Supreme Court, concluded that the exceptional position in the Dutch hospitality industry is illegal. Smoking rooms put social pressure on non-smokers to be in areas where they breathe in smoke. They also force staff, who must clean these areas, to be exposed to smoke. Furthermore, smoke will always make its way into the non-smoking areas of the establishment.
Smoking rooms need to be demolished right away
The government had appealed the earlier ruling by The Hague court on the grounds that it would ban smoking rooms later in 2022, in accordance with the prevention agreement of State Secretary Paul Blokhuis (Public Health). However, with today’s Supreme Court ruling, smoking rooms will need to be demolished this very day.
Impacts on the hospitality industry
This will have significant financial implications for businesses in hospitality, Breghje van Eupen of Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN) explains. “The impact of the ruling is huge. Research by KHN in 2018 shows that there are around seven thousand smoking rooms in the Netherlands. They can then no longer be used as smoking areas. That means that hotel and catering entrepreneurs have to demolish these smoking rooms or have to renovate them considerably. That entails the necessary costs.”
Local residents affected
Furthermore, the disappearance of smoking rooms may lead to new problems- which may affect local residents even more. Hundreds of people may end up smoking outside hospitality establishments, causing air pollution in the area outside the business. Of course, how this ban actually ends up being implemented remains to be seen.
What do you think about the new ban on smoking rooms? Will it help non-smokers, or make life worse for local residents? Let us know in the comments below.
Feature Image: Gerd Altmann/ Pixabay