Ban upheld: Smoking sections in all catering businesses to disappear

Smoking in a restaurant
Smoking in a restaurant Photo: Vadymvdrobot/DepositPhotos

All smoking sections in Dutch restaurants, cafes and bars must close, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday. The ban on smoking sections in the Dutch hospitality industry takes effect immediately, though when enforcement will start, is not yet clear, NOS reports.

The Netherlands banned smoking in catering businesses in July 2008, but made an exception for specially designated smoking sections. Anti-smoking association Clean Air Nederland (CAN) filed a lawsuit against this, arguing that the exception for smoking sections is against a World Health Organization treaty that the Netherlands signed.

The court in The Hague previously ruled in favor of CAN, but the Dutch State appealed to the Supreme Court. On Friday the Supreme Court also ruled against the Dutch State, declaring smoking sections illegal. 

A few months ago the Advocate General, the legal adviser at the Supreme Court, already concluded that the exception in the Dutch hospitality industry is illegal. According to the Advocate-General, non-smokers can feel social pressure to join smokers in a smoking section. He also called it inevitable that smoke will escape smoking sections and end up in non-smoking areas of a cafe, restaurant or bar.