Smoking in Germany

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The 16 federal states of Germany each have their own smoking laws,[1] which range from relatively weak bans to full smoking bans in all restaurants and bars. As of December 2014, nearly 40% of the German population lives in a state with a strict smoking ban including all restaurants, pubs, cafés and discos; other states will probably introduce similar strict laws in the future.

According to a 2013 micro-census survey, 24.5% of the German population aged 15+ are smokers (29 percent in men, 20 percent in women).[2] Among the 18-to-25 year-old age group, 35.2% are smokers.[3]

By region[edit]

In February, 2009, Der Spiegel reported that the smoking bans in bars are very weakly controlled by the authorities, and in many places the ban is not observed at all.[4][5]


In Berlin, a non-smoking law came into effect on 1 January 2007. The Federal Constitutional Court ruled on that law at the end of July and decided that small bars (often called corner bars) were at a disadvantage under the law, as they could not provide a separate smoking area. The senate was asked to submit a new law by the end of 2009. In the transitional period, smoking was permitted in bars which are not larger than 75 square metres and have only one guest room. In addition, the bar was not allowed to serve meals (only snacks), or allow minors to enter, and was required to post a sign saying that the bar is for smokers. In practice, the smoking ban is generally observed in cafés, theatres and restaurants (where food is served), but not in bars. Clubs and discos must, officially, have a separate smoking room, but as controllers do not work past 10 pm, these laws are not enforced.[6]


In August 2007, the states of Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony banned smoking in restaurants, bars and clubs. In October 2007 Hesse also passed a law with similar regulations. Most of the other German states followed in January 2008, though many of these bans still allow smoking in separate ventilated rooms.

North Rhine-Westphalia[edit]

Certain states, North Rhine-Westphalia being one, were given a reprieve, and the imposition of the ban was delayed to 1 July 2008. However since then, many bars call themselves smoking "clubs", with signed up members who are allowed to smoke. Whether this tactic will succeed long term remains to be seen. Since May 2013, smoking is fully forbidden in all restaurants, pubs, cafés and discos in North Rhine-Westphalia, the highest populated German state. Smoking "clubs" are also prohibited.


Bavaria pretended to have the strictest non-smoking rules; however there was a loophole allowing smoking in "private clubs" and the subsequent re-designation of thousands of bars as "private clubs" made the law ineffective. Nevertheless, discontent against the new rules was blamed for the disappointing electoral results of the long-time leading party - CSU - in the 2008 election. Using this pretext, new rules allowing for more smoking in bars and restaurants have been introduced. However, following a call for a referendum by opposition parties and NGOs, enough signatures were collected to launch the Bavarian referendum procedure, which has three steps: private collection of signatures in the streets (validated), official collection of signatures in town halls (from 19 November 2009 to 2 December 2009) and eventually the referendum proper. The referendum called for a smoking ban in all bars and restaurants, without the previous loopholes.[7] On 4 July 2010 the referendum was held and passed by a majority of 61% to 39%.[8] From 1 August 2010, all loopholes were closed and there should, theoretically, be no smoking at all indoors. In view of the previous lack of enforcement, smoke-free bars and restaurants might still not be universal in the state.


After the 2009 election in the state of Saarland, the Green party became indispensable for both possible coalitions (either SPD-The Left-Greens or CDU-FDP-Greens). The Green party put forward a smoking ban in all bars and restaurants as a condition for coalition negotiations with any party; and eventually the coalition treaty of the now-governing CDU-FDP-Greens coalition stipulates that the smoking ban shall be extended to all bars and restaurants.

In the city-state of Hamburg negotiations within the governing CDU-Greens coalition are still going on.[citation needed]

Smoking prevention in schools[edit]

German Cancer Aid is the leading supporter of the "Smokefree Class Competition", the largest school-based smoking prevention program in Europe. The goal of this organization, founded by the late German First Lady Mildred Scheel, is to create a class climate that denormalises smoking. The German slogan for the campaign is: Be smart - don't start.[citation needed]

The idea of the Smokefree Class Competition was first established in Finland in 1989. In the school year 1997/1998 the Smokefree Class Competition was carried out on a European level for the first time. World-wide, Algeria, Canada, Israel, Russia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates have noticed[clarification needed] the project.

The managing director of German Cancer Aid, Gerd Nettekoven, said: In the school-year 2009/2010 the competition was carried out in the following countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (Wales). According to the statistics Germany had the highest success[citation needed].

See also[edit]