Cancer charity calls for ban on smoking rooms in bars

The cancer research charity Kom op tegen Kanker is taking legal action to try and get smoking rooms in bars and cafés banned. The action follows the success of an anti-smoking group in The Netherlands that succeeded in getting smoking rooms banned there. Kom op tegen Kanker argues that allowing the existence of smoking rooms in bars and café contravenes a World Health Organisation treaty. 

On Friday the Dutch Court of Cassation ruled in favour of the anti-smoking group Clean Air Nederland's (CAN) call for smoking rooms to be banned. From now on all separate smoking room in cafés and bars in The Netherlands are outlawed.

Kom op tegen Kanker wants Belgium to follow suit. The organisation’s director March Michils told VRT News that “We aren’t doing this just because there is a precedent, but above all for health reasons. We know that smoke still escapes from smoking rooms and that others in the bar are subjected to passive smoking. Moreover, there is also so-called third-hand smoking to which those that have to clean the smoking room are exposed”. 

"Seeing smoking, encourages smoking"

In Belgium there are strict rules governing smoking rooms. The area given over to smokers can only cover a maximum of 25% of the surface area that is open to the public of a bar or café. Furthermore, the ventilation system in a smoking room must conform to a whole list of technical requirements and the door of the smoking room should never be left open.

However, Mr Michils says that this isn’t enough. “Seeing smoking, encourages smoking. We want to force a ban on smoking in all public places so that young people don’t become tempted to start smoking in the first place rather than having to stop later. This means that we really need to stop having smoking areas”.