Germany’s 16 state premiers will meet today to try to thrash out an agreement on a smoking ban in the country’s restaurants and bars. There is concern differing priorities – Bavaria, for example, wants an exemption for beer tents – will result in a patchwork of legislation being introduced.
Others say a ban would be detrimental to business: “Many people are sceptical, including our own politicians. Restaurant owners, particularly, are worried that if a ban comes in then people will stay at home,” says SPD deputy Sabine Batzing.
But some analysts claim there is evidence to the contrary. In Ireland, Spain and Italy, where bans have been introduced, restaurants continue to flourish.
There are those who say that political pressure is being brought to bear: “I’m not concerned that I might get into trouble with the cigarette industry. I think what we’re doing is important. This is about protecting non-smokers, this is about protecting people from passive smoking. It’s not about the cigarette lobby,” said pro-ban deputy Maria Eichhorn.
The government was accused of caving in to pressure from Germany’s powerful tobacco lobby last year after dropping plans for a nationwide smoking ban saying it was unconstitutional.