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Half of Brussels cafes still flouting smoking ban
Many cafes in Brussels still aren’t abiding by the total smoking ban that’s been in force since 2009.
Inspectors of the Federal Public Service (FPS) Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment visited 97 cafes earlier this summer. They recorded infringements of the smoking ban in 53, or over half, of the establishments they inspected on 10 and 11 July.
Paul Van den Meerssche, chief inspector of the FPS Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment, told De Standaard that inspectors visited cafes in Forest, Anderlecht, Schaerbeek, Koekelberg, Ganshoren, Jette and Molenbeek.
“Certain bad habits still haven’t disappeared and regular checks on the ground remain necessary 10 years after the introduction of the smoking ban," Van den Meerssche said. He added that the spot checks took place at night, which might explain the higher-than-usual rate of infringements. Last year, for instance, only 34% of the cafes visited by inspectors were found in violation of the smoking ban’s provisions.
Van den Meerssche attributed the high number of infringements to an attitude problem among cafe owners. “The rules are clear, but people don’t necessarily believe that they should be observed.”
Smoking in cafes or restaurants is prohibited in Belgium, except in designated smoking rooms. Cafe owners who violate the smoking ban may receive fines of up to €6,000.
Photo: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck
Written by Linda A. Thompson