Environment Minister to look into the introduction of a smoking ban at Flemish nature reserves

Smoking a cigarette, cigar or pipe while walking through one of our region’s nature reserves could soon become a thing of the past. The Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (nationalist) has told VRT News that she is looking into the possibility of banning smoking at all Flemish nature reserves. The ban would cover around 100,000 hectares of areas of natural beauty the length and breadth of Flanders. Ms Demir says that the measure would be taken as way of preventing heath and forest fire being started by carelessly discarded cigarettes or cigars. 

Currently there is a ban on lighting fires (for example campfires or barbecues) in the areas of natural beauty that are managed by the Flemish Nature and Woodland Agency. Ms Demir hopes to extend this to all nature reserves across the region and to incorporate a smoking ban. Ms Demir has commissioned a study to examine whether a smoking ban should be in force all the time but says that she is already convinced that it should apply during periods of dry weather.

"We have had very many dry periods during the last few years and there have been quite a few incidents”.

"It is only logical that we are careful when it comes to fire and smoking. I am looking into how we can do this and during which periods and I will then discuss it with the other members of the government. We have to do something. We don’t have very much in the way of nature in Flanders, so we should do all we can to protect what we do have sufficiently”, Ms Demir told VRT News.  


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