I can see clearly now...
August 1, 2007 marks a milestone in Germany's snail-paced journey into the New Millenium on certain important issues.
Comprehensive anti-smoking laws came into effect today in Baden-Württemberg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), the state we live in. Because the federal government was unable (or unwilling) to enforce a nationwide ban right away, other states will gradually follow once they get their act together.
For Lower Saxony the ban means no smoking in restaurants or bars unless the proprietors have provided a designated smoking area which must be smaller than and sealed off from the main non-smoking area. Local government buildings, hospitals(!), schools(!) and other institutions for children and youth are required to be smoke-free from now on.
September will see a smoking ban in federal buildings, train stations, airports and on all forms of public transportation.
All this sounds really great, but let's face it, a law isn't much use unless it's enforced. Unfortunately restaurants and bars won't be subject to real police checks until November of this year. After that, fines of up to €1000 are possible for either smokers or restaurant/bar owners who disregard the ban. You can bet I'm going to be doing my own personal survey of which establishments care enough to stop the madness NOW. Other European countries have done it - you can too, Germany. Go on, give it a try. All you've got to lose is that smoker's cough.
Looks like it's going to be a bit hazy for a while longer, but I tell you, when that smoke finally clears for good we're all going to be able to breathe a little easier.
Labels: anti-smoking laws in Germany