Smoking ban to be tightened further
The Dutch parliament has once more moved to alter the laws on smoking in the horeca sector, with a narrow majority of MPs now behind a total ban.
In 2010 the Minister of Health and VVD member Edith Schippers created an exception for cafés or bars smaller than 70 square meters in size so long as they also did not employ staff.
Such a policy drew angry responses from health critics who claimed that the tobacco lobby was exercising undue influence upon the government, while cynics cited the huge financial contribution made towards the Dutch economy for the relaxation of the ban.
Now the SGP, the fundamentalist Christian party, has thrown it's weight behind the plan for a ban across the entire hospitality industry, giving a slight majority to the proposal.
The leader of the SGP, Kees van der Staaij, quoted in the AD, explains that he had initial doubts over the proposal but decided that "health interests are paramount."
This past Tuesday the proposal, initiated by the Christian Union, secured it's majority. It will now be passed onto the current government for implementation. However, the coalition partners loyalties appear to lie on either side of the issue, with the PvdA behind the current bid and the VVD the architects of the exception permitted in 2010.
The VVD was joined by the SP, PVV and 50Plus in opposition to the proposal, claiming that smaller bars in non-urban areas, usually one-man-businesses with no staff to protect, will now fear for their continued existence.
Anti-smoking groups argue that any exception sends the wrong message to the public and will claim a victory for public health in the wake of this recent vote.
Source: Algemeen Dagblad