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Smoking bans in Europe

Image by Mark Sebastian

Tourists visiting Europe, especially those from North America, are often amazed it’s still possible to smoke a cigarette in a bar in many cities in Europe.

In March 2004, Ireland became the first country in the world to impose an outright ban on smoking in workplaces. Since then, the EU has done its very best to ban smoking in public throughout Europe. In many countries though, smoking is such a tradition that it’s very difficult to ban it in social spots, such as bars and restaurants.

Image by Lhoon

Where can you smoke a cigarette in a bar or restaurant in “our” Spotted by Locals countries & cities?

Austria (Vienna): Yes, many places!

Background: As of January 2009, all restaurants, bars, discos and pubs larger than 50m² have to introduce smoking rooms and non-smoking rooms. In a place less than 50m² the owner can choose to be a smoking or non-smoking place. They expect it to take a long time to be fully implemented. Quite understandable, since Austrians love their smoking!

For a smoke, Vienna locals recommend Cafe Bendl, and non-smokers can enjoy Cafe Aromat.

Belgium (Antwerp , Brussels, Ghent): Not at all.

Up until 2011, the smoking ban was enforced only in venues where food is served. Since July 2011, smoking isn’t allowed in any restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs or casinos, with exemptions of clearly designated smoking rooms with appropriate ventilation. The smoking rooms cannot take up more than 25% of the total surface of the establishment. Any kind of service is forbidden and the customers can only take their drinks with them (in the hospitality sector).

Bosnia & Herzegovina (Sarajevo): Go ahead!

A theoretical smoking ban does exist since 2007, but enforcement is weak so you may smoke in many places.

A couple of non-smoking areas can be found in Vatra and Torte i to.

Croatia (Zagreb): Nay in restaurants, yea in bars!

A full smoking ban in 2009 was quickly repealed, as it was impossible to control. Now, the official rules say that establishments up to 50 sq m that meet very strict conditions may permit smoking. One of the conditions is a ventilation system that is able to change indoor air at least 10 times per hour. Only 16 out of 16.000 establishments met these conditions. In practice, many don’t care about the regulations – there’s no smoking in restaurants, i.e. places serving food, but as for the bars, an overwhelming majority is still smoke-friendly, even though not many meet the required standards.

For a restaurant with a nice heated terrace for smokers, you can visit Pizzeria Duksa, while for a non-smoking coffee place (the first in Croatia!) go to Cafe Bar Elis.

Czech Republic (Prague): Yes, no problem!

The Czech Republic requires bars and restaurants where smoking is allowed (practically all of them), to put up a sign.

Denmark (Copenhagen): Yes, but only in tiny places.

Smoking is prohibited in venues larger than 40 sq, except in smoking rooms or cabins, where food and drinks are not served. Small bars, with a serving area smaller than 40 sq may permit smoking.

A plethora of such spots can be found at our blog, including Kronborggade 3, McKluud, The Moose, Drone Bar, Palæ Bar etc.

Estonia (Tallinn): Only in smoking areas.

Banned in certain types of public places (e.g. shops), but in others (bars, restaurants, coffee shops and nightclubs), smoking is allowed in designated rooms or areas.

For a bar with a smoking area try Tops, or, if you like smoking on a terrace better, go for Protest.

Finland (Helsinki): Only in smoking areas.

In bars and restaurants, smoking is allowed in separate ventilated rooms where no food or drink is to be served or consumed.

France (Paris): Yes, some places.

Paris establishments have to meet very strict criteria to allow smoking (much ventilation, separate rooms with automatic doors). In practice though, many establishments ignore this ban.

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