Netherlands to bans smoking zones in all public buildings starting this week
Smoking areas in government and public buildings in the Netherlands will be prohibited from July 1, the government confirmed suddenly on Tuesday. This means that schools, hospitals, museums, sports canteens, libraries, healthcare institutions, town halls and the Tweede Kamer will be completely smoke-free as early as this week.
The ban on smoking areas in public buildings was originally scheduled to enter into force in 2022. Making facilities where people work or visit smoke-free was one of the aims stated in the National Prevention Agreement, which State Secretary Paul Blokhuis concluded with more than 70 parties in 2018. With the ban, the Blokuis wants to ensure that people with jobs in public buildings have a safe workplace.
”Smoking is a deadly addiction that kills about 20,000 people every year. Smoking areas facilitate smoking, reinforce the norm that smoking is normal which is in fact harmful. That's why they are closing,” Blokhuis stated.
In September 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that smoking areas in catering industry businesses were illegal because of the negative impact on the health of employees. As a result of the ruling, the smoking sections were largely banned with immediate effect.
State Secretary Blokhuis saw this as an incentive to prohibit smoking areas in other sectors earlier than planned. Furthermore, smoking zones in many non-public buildings must be closed by January 1, 2022.
”Everyone has the right to fresh and healthy air in their environment. In addition, we can prevent young people from starting to smoke and ex-smokers from starting again,” he said.
In the National Prevention Agreement, the government, together with social partners, aims for a smoke-free generation by 2040. That is why various measures have been taken in recent years seeking to make it less attractive to people to smoke.
Smoking is no longer allowed on train station platforms. The prices of tobacco products have increased. Tobacco products have been kept out of sight at checkout counters or are sold in neutral packaging. Moreover, the smoking ban has been extended to include e-cigarettes.