Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in A...
Smoking slowly dying off in Dutch bars15 May 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
The smoking ban for bars and restaurants put in place in 2010 and tightened further in 2012 is finally having an effect.
Preliminary figures from the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) released by the Dutch government show that in the first months of 2014, 75 per cent of cafés and bars were smoke free.
That is an increase of 10 per cent from the autumn of 2013.
Enforcing the smoking ban
In March 2013, State Secretary Martin van Rijn from the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport announced that the smoking ban would be reinstated in July 2014.
This will plug the gap in the legislation that allowed small cafés run by their owners to permit smoking provided there are no staff to be affected.
The intention is to only permit smoking in separate sealed-off areas without table service.
Speaking about the figures, Van Rijn warned that despite the improvement, there was still a long way to go before the ban is respected everywhere.
Lack of full compliance
The bill for the smoking ban is now before Parliament, and Van Rijn says that once it has passed it will provide more clarity.
While he hopes that it will lead to no more smoking in bars, he admits that he cannot say it will never happen. Nonetheless, the NVWA will continue to have extra capacity to check on venues for compliance.
He admitted that smoking "is a persistent phenomenon in our society" and suggested that compliance figures may be disappointing for some time. Figures from 2013 showed that smoking is on the rise in Amsterdam and has been for the previous five years.
Banning tobacco sales to under-18s
Another restriction on tobacco in the Netherlands was one of the changes in legislation that came in on January 1 this year: a ban on tobacco sales to people younger than 18.
Vendors who sell tobacco to underage patrons now face penalties: if they are caught three times in one year, they will be banned from selling tobacco for at least a week.
Each year, nearly 20.000 Dutch people die due to smoking-related diseases related, including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and vascular diseases.
Source: Government of the Netherlands