News of: Tuesday, February 23 2010,

Dutch Supreme Court rules in favour of smoking ban in pubs without staff

In an unexpected judgement, the Hoge Raad (the Dutch Supreme Court) has rules that the smoking ban also applies to pubs that do not employ staff.

The smoking prohibition in bars, pubs and clubs in the Netherlands applies from July 1 2008, but has been under attack ever since.

Pubs that do not employ staff had taken the government to court about the fines, and won the case several times in appeal.
However, the government went into appeal also against the latest decision, with today's Hoge Raad judgement as a result.

The Hoge Raad is the highest court in the Netherlands, so in principle no further appeal is possible (unless with an international court such as the European Court of Human Rights).

The judgement means that the ashtrays will have to return on the tables.

After the last judgements were won by the pub owners, enforcement of the smoking ban was put on a lower level, until the Hoge Raad had passed judgement.
During this period, many pub owners made use of the occasion and allowed smoking again.

It is to be expected that the authorities will step up the enforcement activities.

If people smoke in a pub, the owner will get fined. Repeat offenders risk losing their pub license.