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Belgium to ban smoking in in zoos, playgrounds and theme parks

08:56 26/03/2024

A new bill has expanded the list of public places in which smoking is prohibited to include amusement parks, zoos, playgrounds, children’s farms and sports grounds.

The text also provides for a ban on smoking at the entrances and exits of health establishments, schools, children's centres and libraries.

In those cases, a 10-metre "smoke-free" zone will have to be designated in front of these areas.

The terrace of a catering outlet attached to certain places, for example a sporting ground, is not affected by the measure.

But areas such as sports grounds that are also used for other purposes, such as a concert, will not be exempt from the ban. In those cases, designated smoking areas may be set up but minors will not be allowed to access them.

The measure, aimed at protecting the health of children, received unanimous support except from Vlaams Belang, which abstained from voting.

The new legislation will come into force on 31 December 2024.

Public health minister Frank Vandenbroucke, who introduced the measure, considers it part of the goal of achieving a "tobacco-free generation".

Another part of that plan is the removal of single-use disposable e-cigarettes from the market beginning on 1 January 2025.

“Our country has received the agreement of the European Commission to this effect,” he said.

“The disposable e-cigarette does great harm to society and the environment. This harmful product mainly targets our young people. I am therefore delighted to be able to withdraw it from the market.”

Vandenbroucke said smoking was one of the leading causes of preventable illness and death in Belgium and that Belgium will be the first country in Europe to effectively ban the sale of disposable electronic cigarettes (with the exception of the UK, outside the European Union).

“Belgium is playing a pioneering role in Europe in weakening the tobacco lobby,” said Vandenbroucke. “This is another milestone in our fight against smoking.”

Written by Helen Lyons