13 Jul 2010
Voters in the southern German state of Bavaria recently voted for a total smoking ban, and it is hoped the move will lead to tough new anti-smoking rules across the country.
Although only 37.7% of the eligible population participated in the 4 July referendum, 61% voted in favor of introducing a smoking ban in Bavarian hospitality venues.
German state laws allow smoking in beer tents and pubs with special smoking rooms – in some cases also throughout smaller pubs. But tobacco-free advocates hope the new ban in Bavaria will lead to all of the country’s pubs, restaurants and beer tents becoming smoke-free.
The new smoke-free legislation will be introduced in Bavaria on 1 August 2010. However, it will not apply to this year’s beer festival, Oktoberfest; it will come into force for the 2011 festival.
“The referendum’s results confirmed that the majority of Germans want a smoke-free hospitality industry”, said the Head of the German Cancer Research Center’s (DFKZ) Cancer Prevention and WHO Collaborating Center for Tobacco Control Unit, Dr Martina Pötschke-Langer.
“The DKFZ salutes these results and hopes that other German states and the federal government follow this example and introduce comprehensive smoke-free legislation on a national level,” she said.
According to DR Pötschke-Langer, 74 per cent of the German population support smoking bans in hospitality venues and 71 per cent want uniform laws throughout the country.
“We expect this referendum will affect other German states and that this legislation will help protect the health of non-smokers working in the hospitality industry,” she added.
Dr Pötschke-Langer said that employees working in establishments exposed to tobacco smoke face great health risks.
"Tobacco smoke contains a multitude of substances that are toxic, carcinogenic or capable of causing changes in the genetic material,” she added.
“If pregnant women have to work in smoking rooms, the smoke does not only harm the future mother, but also the unborn child – right from the beginning of pregnancy.”
Before the referendum, the DKFZ published a report analyzing the effects of partial smoking bans enacted over the past three years by Germany’s 16 states.
The report recommended that smoking be completely prohibited in public venues due to health reasons. It also found that from 2005 to 2009 smoking pollution had fallen by about 80 per cent as smoking bans took effect throughout the country.