Health and Environment|

Belgium court rules on widespread smoking ban

A top court in Belgium has decided this week that the country’s smoking ban will be widened to include all cafes and all nine casinos in the Kingdom, to take effect from July 1.

There has been a widespread ban on smoking in work places, pubs and restaurants that serve food since 2009, but exemptions were granted temporarily to cafes and casinos which sell only snacks like crisps and peanuts.

According to the law, the exemptions would remain in effect until January 1, 2014, but the case has been taken to Belgium’s constitutional court where Flemish Anti-Cancer League has asked that the law be struck down.

The court ruled that the exemption will be lifted but establishments have been given until June 30 to adapt to the smoking ban.

The judges said that the government had failed to prove that harm would be caused to pubs if a smoking ban were to be imposed. They said that it was harmful to competition to draw distinctions between establishments.

In addition, the court stated that the health of employees and non-smokers should be protected in casinos also; even the clientele they serve is more specific.

There will still be a corner where smokers can light up, as judges say that establishments are permitted to have special smoking rooms which feature air vents in public buildings and restaurants.

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