frank_davis (frank_davis) wrote,

EU Declares War on Smokers

Thanks to a commenter, I've learned that the German newspaper Bild is reporting that the EU has declared war on smokers.

A dossier with recommendations for the 27 member states has been released by the EU. The objective - a “100 per cent smoke free environment”.

Health ministers proposed the paper and the EU parliament has approved it.

Member countries now have three years to bring the recommendations into their own legal systems

The document makes recommendations for drastic measures to ban smoking in all workplaces, public buildings and facilities. The smoking ban will include all hallways, staircases, toilets, staffrooms, store rooms and lifts that are used at work.

• Fines: Anyone who breaks the ban will receive a fine. The penalties are intended to be high enough to act as a deterrent. Companies will be threatened with higher fines than individuals and if necessary may even be threatened with the temporary withdrawal of their business permit.

• ‘Smoking police’: The EU states are being asked to set up a system for enforcing the smoking ban, including a system of prosecution. The use of inspectors and enforcement officials is recommended. They will also carry out random spot checks.

• Ashtray ban: It will be the responsibility of all companies and public services to ensure that there are no ashtrays in the building.

• Shock trials: The EU states will be encouraged to carry out sensationalist prosecutions designed to shock the public. Celebrities who smoke will also be targeted and exposed publicly as smoking offenders. The document states that if individuals in the public eye have deliberately disregarded the law and this is publicly known, the authorities will demonstrate their commitment to and the seriousness of the legislation by reacting with rigorous and speedy measures, attracting the widest possible public attention.

The story also appeared on 27 Jan in Express (German). An online poll under it had 54% saying the measure was "uberzogen und diskriminierend" ("overdone and discriminating"), and 37% approving.

It looks very much as if the relevant EU document may well be Proposal for a COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION on smoke-free environments 30 June 2009. And Bild doesn't seem to have been exaggerating. It does indeed propose ashtray removal, and penalties may include suspension of business licences. And high profile prosecutions of prominent violators:

43. When active enforcement begins, many jurisdictions recommend the use of highprofile prosecutions to enhance deterrence. By identifying prominent violators who have actively defied the law or who are well known in the community, by taking firm and swift action and by seeking maximum public awareness of these activities, authorities are able to demonstrate their resolve and the seriousness of the law. This increases voluntary compliance and reduces the resources needed for future monitoring and enforcement.

44. While smoke free laws quickly become self-enforcing, it is nevertheless essential that authorities be prepared to respond swiftly and decisively to any isolated instances of outright defiance. Particularly when a law first comes into force, there may be an occasional violator who makes a public display of contempt for the law. Strong responses in these cases set an expectation of compliance that will ease future efforts, while indecisiveness can rapidly lead to widespread violations. (emphases added)

I haven't managed to find out when or if this proposal or recommendation was approved by the EU parliament. The matter was before the EU parliament back in 26 Nov 2009.. But it would appear that there has been a more recent development.

I haven't really had time to think about this. It's sheer health fascism, of course. But I'm not surprised, since I've warned about it several times. The EU is as much a den of antismoking zealots as anywhere else. And if EU member states do in fact only have 3 years in which to comply, then this will override any accommodations they may have already reached. It's exactly the sort of law preferred by uncompromising antismoking zealots, because it will be far more difficult to overturn an EU-wide ban than any local state ban.

But the proposed measures against "high profile prosecutions" against "prominent violators" may well backfire, and force some celebrity smokers to oppose antismoking laws in ways they hitherto may not have.

This is exactly this sort of thing that turns people against the EU. Except this is probably the most egregious example yet. The EU shouldn't be making laws like this, which dictate people's personal social behaviour, and allow no exceptions. It's the sort of thing that should be left to individual countries, or individual localities within countries, or individual companies, or to individuals. It should really fall under the EU 'subsidiarity' rules.

I used to be quite pro-EU. Family of nations and all that. No longer, I'm sorry to say. I can't live with this kind of thing. It bodes ill for the future of the EU that it is now setting out to marginalise and denormalise fully one third of EU citizens.

P.S. Chris Snowdon has also covered this. He suggested in his comments a different EU document than the one I did.
Tags: eu, smoking ban

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