Friday, November 22, 2019

Austria bans smoking in bars and restaurants

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A ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in Austria went into effect on Friday, making it one of the last countries in Europe to enforce such barbaric behavior in public after years of debate and protest.

MPs passed the ban last July to abolish Austria’s status as a former European cigarette ash. Only members of the Nationalist Freedom Party (FPO) opposed the measure.

One-quarter of the country’s 8.8 million people smoke, exceeding the European average of 18 percent, but the ban calls have persisted for over a decade.

FPO, previously headed by a hardcore smoker, thwarted past attempts to ban smoking in pubs and restaurants when joined the government in December 2017.

It sparked opposition from most Austrian public and medical associations, which organized a petition in favor of a ban signed by nearly 900,000 or 14 percent of voters.

However, last May, the FPO left the government following a corruption scandal, paving the way for the proposal to be re-elected in Parliament.

To date, smoking was allowed in bars and restaurants over 50 square meters as long as it is conducted in a separate area, though the rules are not strictly enforced.

However, some restaurants and cafes has already prohibited the smoking in the premises.

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