Reactions to smoking bans in public places have generally worked very smoothly.
Not in Holland.Many cafes have allowed their customers to light up, risking fines that start at 300 euros and can run up to 2,400 euros.
Cafe De Balk in Groningen has developed an ingenious and vaguely legal way around the ban imposed in the Netherlands last July. The bar and serving staff have been moved to to a small storeroom, designating what was its main bar area as the smoking zone.As they say on their website
Café de Balk is a traditional dutch pub.
We're special because you can smoke in our pub legally. Our front door is not in the front in of the building but at the side. The bar in the front is not our real bar, in other words everything is different. Let yourself be surprised.
They serve - On tap; Dommelsch, la Chouffé, and the 3rd bier is per season a surprise. Guinness, Murphy's red, Grolsch and Strongbow cider as normal.Smokecafé de Balk E.T.A. Thuessinklaan 7 9713 J.P. Groningen (well it's near the hospital and behind the church.....)Tel: 050-3135621
Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport (since feb 2007) Ab Klink said on Thursday he is unable to take action against cafe De Balk and its novel solution.
The government prohibited smoking in cafes,bars and restaurants to "protect employees from the dangers of passive smoking" - their claimed principal motives. Under this law Cafes are allowed to create a sealed of smoking area, as long it is seperated from the bar, and staff work in a smoke free area.
So Cafe De Balk seperated the staff from the smokers rather than the other way around.
There is (naturally) a catch - probably number 22 - the regulations only specify that the area where drinks are served has to be larger than 35 square metres and the Groningen pub's storeroom meets this criterion.So says Klink ther is nothing he can do.
The Victoria in Breda wins their case in court
The Telegraaf reports today that a small cafe in Breda , the Victoria, is also not guilty breaking the ban on smoking. ( Prins Hendrikstraat 83,4835 PL Breda, Tel 076 5654024 - Koos & Ria Struijer)
The court in Breda said the smoking ban treated the owners of cafes with and without additional personnel differently.
1. Cafe owners with additional staff had to ensure that workers had a smoke-free working environment, the judges said. This could be achieved, for example, by a ventilation system, the Telegraaf quoted the judges as saying.
2. By contrast, cafes without staff have to completely ban smoking on the premises, the judges said.
The public prosecution office had demanded the owner of the Victoria cafe be fined €12,000 for allowing smoking on the premises.