On 1 August 2007 smoking inside public bars and restaurants was banned in Baden-Württemberg. This unleashed a predictable backlash in the local press from a significant minority of local publicans and restaurant owners who complained that they would lose custom as a result of the ban. (I'm a non-smoker, by the way.) Personally, I view such reactions as short-sighted yammering. Have they thought of the custom they might potentially miss out on from non-smokers who might otherwise stay at home? Anyway, there is a particular pub in Weil which I have frequented every now and again over the last seven years. The last time I visited the bar was early November for an evening meal. To my surprise, not only were a number of fellow guests smoking happily away but the owners behind the bar were doing the same. Now, I've had a "grin and bear it" attitude to smoking in pubs in the past, i.e. it was simply a fact of life that by going into such an establishment you had to expect some people there might be smoking. However, once countries like the Republic of Ireland and Italy took the step a few years ago to ban smoking inside public establishments, I did hope that a similar ban might eventually come into effect here - not that I thought that this would occur any time in the near future. Hence my utter surprise when the politicians in Stuttgart suddenly decided to introduce the ban on the quiet last August - and my subsequent dismay that certain people here are still flouting the rules.
My quiet reaction that evening in November was to decide that the pub in question would not be getting my custom again if this state of affairs didn't change. Now it seems that a number of other disgruntled patrons may have taken the matter further and complained to the town hall. What's more, a number of eating and drinking establishments that were complying with the new laws have complained to the town hall regarding the "competitive disadvantage" they are suffering at the hands of their less law-abiding colleagues! The Weiler Zeitung last week reported that, as a result of these complaints, the town hall sent stern letters to a number of establishments, making it clear in no uncertain terms of their obligation to observe the no-smoking law.
I wonder whether the people at my local drinking hole have now got the message.
I suppose it's good that at least there is a no-smoking law in force here - unlike in Basle where a powerful publican's lobby ensures a rather smoky status quo.