To ban or not to ban… The question of smoking in public places is on the agenda at a meeting of Germany’s 16 state premiers. Individual states and not the federal government have power over places such as bars and restaurants, where a no-smoking rule could be imposed. But with agreement expected to be difficult, it is feared that a patchwork of different restrictions could be introduced across the country.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already given her backing to a broad smoking ban. An increasing number of EU nations are cracking down on smoking in public. It is estimated that passive smoking kills some 79,000 Europeans a year. Last year, Germany’s federal government dropped plans for a nationwide ban, saying it would be unconstitutional. This prompted accusations that it had caved in to pressure from the country’s tobacco lobby.