Constitutional Court Rejects Last Ditch Appeal Against Smoking Ban

Several nightclub owners had appealed the absolute ban on smoking. They had one specific argument.

In 2015 it was decided, in May 2018 it should have come into force, but was prevented by the coalition partner FPÖ of the previous government under Sebastian Kurz.

Now it is here: The general smoking ban takes effect November 1.

Until the very end, nightclub owners tried to fend it off, most recently, with a constitutional complaint.

The owners wanted to distinguish night gastronomy from the mainstream restaurant business.

But last week, the Verfassungsgerichtshof VfGH (Constitutional Court) remained unconvinced and rejected the complaint.

Protection of public health

The VfGH referred to its ruling of 18 June 2019 that “smoking tobacco products (…) is a social phenomenon that is harmful to health and also endangers other people”. Protection of public health should take precedence, in particular the interests of employees, over the interests of the operators of food service establishments.

Temporarily, Austria had agreed on a regulation in which restaurants make a part of their facilities available for non-smokers and a part for smokers. Locally separated, of course. Some even had to rebuild their venues.

As of November 1, however, the general smoking ban will supercede this decision. To enforce it, the City has announced immediate controls, and non-compliance may result in fines.

To sit at a jazz bar in the eighth district, listen to the sounds of the saxophone, trumpet and piano and blow smoke rings or puff on a cigar… All this will soon vanish from the scene, and the iconic yet intimate love affair between Viennese coffee houses and cigarettes will come to an end. But also less romantic pictures like smoky nightclubs or foul smelling jackets, which have to be thrown into the washing machine after a visit to U4, will belong to history.

Julia Seidl
Julia started out at "Die Presse." She went on to study "Journalism & Media Management" in Vienna and worked for several local news outlets such as ORF, Kurier and Falter before joining Metropole as online content and social media manager.

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