Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Victory in Holland!

By Blad Tolstoy

Court throws out smoking ban for small bars

Published: Tuesday 12 May 2009 11:58 UTC

A court in Den Bosch has ruled that there is no legal basis for the smoking ban to apply to bars if they employ no staff. The ruling comes in a case against the owners of Café Victoria in Breda. Its owners were fined for allowing their customers to smoke on the premises and ended up in court last month when they refused to pay.

The court then also found in the café's favour, but for a different reason. It ruled that small bars like Café Victoria faced unfair competition as a consequence of the smoking ban.

The Justice Ministry appealed against the verdict. However, the appeal court has now ruled that the law does not provide for a smoking ban in cafés whose owners do not employ any staff. The smoking ban, which came into force on 1 July last year, is essentially health and safety legislation designed to protect employees.

Campaigning organisations representing small bars and restaurants without staff have welcomed the verdict. The public prosecutor's office immediately lodged an appeal.

In a similar case in February, the owners of Café De Kachel in Groningen were also fined 1200 euros for failing to comply with the smoking ban. Their appeal is due to be heard at the end of May.