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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Sparks fly over new anti-smoking proposals

Norway’s left-center government wants to further crack down on smoking and is proposing a string of measures to tighten existing laws. Smokers and even some non-smokers are fired up over what they see as another regulatory assault.

Current laws have banned or highly restricted smoking indoors for years. Now newspaper Dagsavisen reports that the government also wants to ban smoking outdoors, for example at the entrances to public buildings and in the outdoor areas of bars, restaurants and cafés. Many were set up to accommodate smokers who no longer were able to smoke inside.

Non-smokers who want to sit outside on a sunny day, for example, now risk being surrounded by smokers. The government thus feels many restaurant owners aren’t following the spirit of the law, by providing smoke-free spaces for customers.

Other proposals include bans on all smoking, indoors or outdoors, at public institutions, schools and day care centers. The government also seeks a ban on toy cigarettes and sale of cigarettes with just 10 in a pack. Sales of tobacco are already highly taxed, with tobacco products taken out of public view at retail establishments. That’s the subject of an ongoing legal challenge on the grounds it violates EU free trade rules.

The government’s new proposals will be up for hearings this autumn.

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