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Smoking on the rise in Amsterdam17 July 2013, by Alexandra Gowling
There are more people smoking in Amsterdam now than there were five years ago.
The GGD (Public Health Service) concluded from recent research that while the number of smokers in the Netherlands as a whole is decreasing, the numbers in Amsterdam are doing the opposite.
In 2008, 27 per cent of Amsterdammers smoked; now it is 28 per cent. The Dutch average is much lower at 23 per cent.
An increase of one per cent is not usually a cause for concern, but that depends on where the percentage lies. People older than 65 are smoking less, as are women between 25 and 64, but Amsterdammers between 19 and 34 are where the entire increase is located.
Five years ago, 29 per cent of young Amsterdammers were smokers; now it’s 39 per cent. That’s the same percentage of people who used to smoke in Amsterdam in 1994.
In response to the report, the Bonger Institute at the University of Amsterdam, which monitors the levels of smoking among people in bars and clubs in Amsterdam, commented that while the warning signs had been there, they had not expected such a large growth.
Their research had noted a recent increase in smokers in clubs, while the number of smokers in bars has been rising since 2010.
This increase in smokers covers the same period as the government’s 2008 ban on cigarette smoking in hotels and restaurants, although allowing it in small cafes and bars that are run by their owners, on the grounds that they have no staff.
Photo by Flickr user DucDigital
In practice, however, the ban is widely flouted in bigger bars, cafes and nightclubs.
Extension of smoking ban
Combatting this, the government will reinstate the ban on smoking in bars and cafes across the entire hospitality industry in July 2014. Once the ban is reintroduced, smoking will only be permitted in separate sealed-off smoking areas without table service.
In the Netherlands as a whole, the number of venues allowing smoking has dropped. Last year, 61 per cent of cafes and clubs banned smoking inside; this year, it was 73 per cent. The number of smoking areas in pubs, however, has almost doubled.
Whether the ban will reduce the number of young, urban Amsterdammers smoking remains to be seen.