More and more countries in Europe are adopting stricter legislation on smoking in public places. This article will be updated regularly with information gathered by EPHA members, such as the European Network for Smoking Prevention (ENSP) and the European Respiratory Society on the progress of European countries in implementing anti-smoking legislation.
In March 2004 Ireland became the first country in the world to impose an outright ban on smoking in workplaces. Irish legislation makes it an offence to smoke in workplaces, which has the effect of banning smoking in pubs and restaurants.
Following this successful example, Norway and Italy were next to follow suit. Other countries, such as Britain, Portugal and Sweden, have drafted plans to establish similar laws.
The Albanian government approved a bill of law to ban smoking in public places, such as bars and restaurants in the summer of 2006. The law is intended to lower the number of smokers in the country, which has one of the highest smoking rates in Europe.
The Austrian Tobacco law prohibits smoking buildings that are open to the public and institutions open to children and young people BUT does not include workplaces. Austria plans to pass legislation banning smoking in restaurants by the end of 2007, with separate smoking romms or air conditioning measures.
Since January 2006, Belgium has banned smoking in all enclosed workplaces. Smoking will only be allowed in designated areas. However, employers are not obliged to create such areas.
Since January 2007, Belgium allowed smoking in restaurants in separate rooms where no food was served. Bars and cafés were not yet affected by the ban but were required to provide adequate ventilation and a non-smoking zone to their clients.
From 1 July 2011, Belgium will ban smoking in all public places, including cafés, bars and nightclubs. Smokers will be allowed to smoke in a separate room were no drink or food is served.
In 2010, Bulgaria introduced a smoking ban but it was repealed to finally pass, from the 1st June 2012, a law introducing a smoke-free obligation in all enclosed areas.
In 2008, the Croatian Parliament passed a law making hospitals (except psychiatric services), schools (including universities), and nurseries smoke free. In 2009, this law has been enforced, expanding the scope of the text to all enclosed public places including bars, restaurants and cafes.
From 2009 to 2010, the ban has been partially repealed. Establishments that are up to 50 sqm respecting very strict conditions can choose to allow tobacco consumption.
The protection of Health (smoking) Unified Laws 2002-2004 prohibit smoking in all public places, including places of entertainment (restaurants, bars etc) in all government buildings, public transport and in private cars carrying any passenger under 16. Separate smoking areas that are well ventilated will be introduced at the discretion of individual bar, cafe or restaurant owners.
In April 2007, the Parliament passed an anti-smoking bill ought to limit smoking in restaurants and other public areas. Separate premises in restaurants, cafes and bars will have to be reserved for smokers.
While there is a complete ban of smoking in public transport, Denmark is implementing a partial ban in bars, restaurants and workplaces.
Since 15 August 2007, smoking is prohibited in public transport. While smoking is also prohibited at the workplace, there is a possibility to choose to allow smoking in one-man office or install special rooms/cabins for smoking. Where children are present (e.g. private day care) smoking is prohibited at all times.
All workplaces must have a written smoking policy. This must clearly state if it is allowed to smoke in the workplace, where you can smoke (if it is allowed) and what sanctions will be imposed as a consequence of violation of the policy.
Finally, smoking is allowed in bars and cafes smaller than 40 sqm that do not serve food. The law is enforced in any service establishment, which is enclosed by a roof and walls (including tents). The 40 sqm does not include the bar and the area behind the bar, toilets, wardrobe, stairs and similar facilities for the guests. However, the labour inspectorate can order installation of ventilation if workers are exposed to passive smoking. 
On 1 July 2007, workplaces and enclosed public places in England became smokefree environments. The Health Act 2006 defines enclosed public places and workplaces as being offices, factories, shops, pubs, bars, restaurants, membership clubs, public transport and work vehicles that are used by more than one person.
Bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs will come under a complete ban on smoking on 5 June 2007. Smoking will only be permitted in enclosed smoking rooms with a separarte ventilation system. A complete ban on smoking has been imposed on all enclosed premises which are open to the public since June 2005.
As of June 2007, Finland went completely smoke-free in all indoor public places, including bars and restaurants.
On 1 February 2007 France prohibited smoking in public places, including offices and schools. Since 2008, the ban was extend to cover all public places including amongst others, restaurants, dance clubs and cafes.
On 22 March 2007, Germany’s federal states agreed to ban smoking in restaurants and pubs, but allows exemptions for small bars and premises with separate smoking rooms. This proposed ban will have to be approved by each of the sixteen state parliaments before it can come into force.
Berlin is set to be the first city to inforce the ban on smoking in public buildings, as well as bars and restaurants.
On the 27 April 2007, the Federal Health Minister and the Federal Consumer Affairs Minister of Germany introduced a bill to ban smoking in buses, trains, taxis, stations and Federal government buildings as of 1 September 2007, while still providing the option for separate smoking rooms. The sale of cigarettes will also be prohibited to persons under 18.
Since September 2010, Greece has implemented a new smoke free regulation prohibiting the Greek population to smoke in bars, restaurants, cafes, workplaces (with no separated smoking room allowed) and public transport.
With more than 40% of its population smoking, Greece is the EU country with the highest rate of tobacco consumption.
Hungary ranks first in the world for rates of lung cancer in both genders, as well as for mouth cancer. According to the WHO, Hungarian regulations regarding smoking in public were very weak when compared to regulations in other European countries. This was due to the availability of cigarettes, as well as the weak regulation on smoking and the lack of political support for strong interventions to control tobacco.
The situation is about to change: from January 2012, public places, restaurants and bars (amongst other workplaces) will be smoke free in Hungary.
Iceland will go completely smoke-free on 1 June 2007.
Ireland went completely smoke-free in 2004, including bars and restaurants.
Italian legislation has prohibited smoking in the workplace since 2005, including bars and restaurants. However, enclosed and separately ventilated rooms are permited.
Northern Ireland’s smoke-free legislation came into effect on 30 April 2007. Smoking is no longer permitted in enclosed public places and work places, including bars and restaurants.
Smoking is prohibited in many indoor public places and municipalities have the power to prohibit smoking in outdoor public places. However, smoking is permited in bars and restaurants and other public actering establishments, however owners must set up no-smoking rooms.
Lithuania went smoke-free in January 2007.
Anti-smoking legislation was recently passed by the Luxembourg parliament. There will be a total ban on advertising and sponsoring, plus a ban on smoking in public places such as restaurants (although separate smoking rooms are permitted if these account for less than 25% of the total area of the venue) and cafés (with a ban in place during dining hours), total ban in schools as well as public buildings, buses and trains. Workplace regulations are more complex: the employer has the obligation to take all reasonable efforts to ensure that workers are protected from passive smoking.
The smokefree legislation has been a real success in Luxembourg which is why the governement wants to further act in the protection of young people (in particular) from second-hand smoke.
Since 2004, smoking has been banned in enclosed premises, except in designated smoking rooms. The ban includes bars and restaurants.
A complete ban at workplaces has been implemented in the Netherlands since 2004. The law was expanded in 2008 to cover restaurants, cafes, nighclubs and bars. Small bars and cafes that do not have employees are exempted from the legislation (the only obligation is for them to post signes that smoking is allowed).
Smoking legislation which has been in place since 2004 in Norway, prohibits smoking in bars and restaurants, but allows workplaces to have designated smoking rooms.
Since 2003, Poland’s legislation has prohibited smoking in enclosed workplaces with the exception of designated smoking areas.
In 2010, the country reviewed its national tobacco legislation. After numerous discussions, the new pieces of legislation foresees a smoking ban in:
hospitals and other outpatients clinics and premises for patients
all educational premises
workplaces (employers can provide smoking rooms but they have to be specially prepared, with automatic ventilation)
all means of public transport
bars and restaurants (but if there is more than one room the owner can provide one room for smokers, which will have to be automatically closed and have proper ventilation)
public cultural and leisure venues
bus, tram, and train stops
sport stadiums and other premises
other public access venues (not specified).
Additionally, owners of these premises may build - but are not obliged - special, i.e. smoking rooms closed with ventilation in :
Agreed on on the 29 April 2010, there are 6 months to implement the Act.
Portugal’s smoking ban does not include bars and restaurants. Smoking is banned in healthcare, education and government facilities, as well as indoor workplaces, offices, theatres and ciinemas with designated smoking areas. Smoking is banned on journeys that take less than an hour by public transport.
The government is currently reviewing its smoke free legislation in the direction of smoke free restaurants, nightclubs and bars. EPHA will keep you updated about the latest developments.
Smoking is banned in all enclosed public places. Bars, restaurants and nightclubs are obliged to mark out smoking and non-smoking areas and ensure that ventillation is installed.
Scotland implemented its smoking ban in March 2006. The ban covers all pubs, restaurants, bars, shops, cinemas, offices, hospitals, work vehicles and sports centres. Exemptions include private residential homes, private vehicles and designated rooms in care homes, prisons and hotels.
Since 1990, eployers in Slovakia have been obliged to ban smoking in workplaces where non-smokers work. Schools, health and social facilities are smoke-free, however smoke-free zones are only mandatory in establishments serving food.
A public consultation on the new tobacco bill, which had been proposed by the Slovenian Ministry of Health, concluded in January 2007. The proposal for the new law includes a total ban on smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants, although exemptions will be made for separate smoking areas.
From 1 January 2006, Spain prohibited smoking at the workplace. For bars and restaurants that are larger than 100 sqm, the law allowed the creation of separate smoking rooms. For bars and restaurants that are smaller than 100 smq (and this is the vast majority of cases), the legislation offered the bar owner the posibility of going smokefree.
On 2 January 2011, Spain introduced one of the toughest pieces of smoke free legislations in the EU. From now on, smoking is banned in bars, restaurants, discotheques, casinos, airports as well as in outside places such as outside hospitals and children’s playgrounds. Only hotels are allowed to have 30% of their rooms open to smokers.
In Sweden most workplaces are smoke-free. All bars, restaurants and nightclubs are also smoke-free. The law does allow for separately ventillated smoking rooms but less than 2% of Swedish facilities have opted for this option.
Switzerland imposes partial restrictions in indoor workplaces.
The Welsh government first voted in favour of a smoking ban in 2003 and the ban on smoking in enclosed public places was introduced on 2 April 2007, three months ahead of the ban in England. Smoking is now banned in most public places, including restaurants, pubs and bars.
N.B: last update: May 2011
For more information:
EPHA section on smoking prevention
EPHA’s updates have been sourced from the European Network for Smoking Prevention’s (ENSP) work on European Trends Towards Smoke-free Provisions.