Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Smoking Rule Repeals Lead to Blanket Ban in Bavaria

A series of partial repeals on smoking bans in Germany since 2007 have not turned out to be the victory for tobacco that they appeared to be. The expanded cigarette smoke so irritated people in the large southern state of Bavaria that 61 percent of voters voted to approve a blanket ban on smoking in commercial buildings. Three out of four non-smokers must have voted for the ban, along with at least one out of six smokers. Across Germany, support for a smoking ban has expanded so much that at least two political parties are looking to duplicate the pending Bavaria rules in all the other states of Germany to create uniform smoking rules across the country.

Germany until recently had some of the highest smoking rates in the world, the result of a very active tobacco lobby, yet tobacco is too small an industry to fight the health care wars. In Germany, tobacco-related illnesses may add about 25 percent to national health care costs, and that is not a popular position to be in at a time when voters are looking for budget-cutting measures. Combine people’s irritation at the foul air with budget pressures, and it will not be so easy to find people to cast a vote for tobacco.