An article in Algemeen Dagblad reports that a court in The Hague has decided that cafes, restaurants and other catering establishments may no longer have smoking areas following a lawsuit. Bernadet Naber, from the Association of the Hospitality Industry, says that a lot of money has been invested in smoking rooms and she’s not sure what is going to happen now following this announcement.
It is extremely important to ensure that people who choose not to smoke are not involuntarily exposed to tobacco smoke in enclosed, indoor public spaces. It is equally important, however, for all health policy to be evidence-based, and for the free choices of adults to be respected. Informed adults should have the freedom to smoke if they choose and should not be unfairly penalised for doing so. Policies which protect the rights of non-smokers should not be used to punish smokers for making this choice for themselves.
ESTA Secretary General Peter van der Mark said: “Smokers should not be ostracised for choosing to smoke. The most appropriate policy response is to provide smoke-free environments for non-smokers whilst accommodating smokers through designated, ventilated smoking areas. Not to allow this will harm small businesses in the Netherlands, which will now have to spend a significant amount of money restructuring their premises. Moreover, it disregards the rights of smokers, abandoning evidence-based policy in favour of paternalistically punishing adults for how they choose to live their lives.”