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Commission stokes EU smoking ban debate

Commission stokes EU smoking ban debate
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The European Union has urged the member countries to forbid smoking in public places. The Commission in Brussels has published a discussion paper saying the level of EU involvement in promoting smoke-free legislation is “an open question”. But, in Brussels’ opinion, comprehensive smoke-free policies that are successfully in force prove that the blanket option is viable.

The law bans smoking in the workplace and public spaces in Ireland and Malta, Italy (with limited success), Sweden and, since this January, in many places in Lithuania. England will follow a smoke-free Scotland this summer. Bans in France kick in this week but give bars, restaurants and workplaces a year’s reprieve. Belgium is ahead of France but it too has exceptions.

EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou talked in terms of the biggest public benefit. He said: “Even though my position is for a full comprehensive ban as soon as possible, I welcome also a step by step approach provided that this approach leads after not a long period to this comprehensive smoking ban.”

Broad variations apply across the bloc. All the 27 EU governments, non-governmental organisations, consumers and the tobacco industry are invited to put forward proposals on the matter by 31 May. Some EU members, such as Germany, have so far rejected bans.

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