Bans loom on outdoor smoking

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Norway’s Cancer Society (Kreftforeningen) and Asthma and Allergy Association (Norges astma- og allergiforbund, NAAF) have joined forces with several cafes and restaurants to stamp out smoking in outdoor eating and drinking areas ahead of World No Tobacco on Saturday. The one-day outdoor ban was to celebrate 10 years since smoking was prohibited in all bars and restaurants in Norway, but there’s a push to extend the laws.

Locals enjoy a beer in the sun outside Parkteatret, a bar and concert venue in Oslo's Grünerløkka district. Health organizations like the NAAF want smoking bans in bars and restaurants extended to all outdoor service areas, but the Cancer Society said a prohibition isn't necessary because smoking is gradually becoming socially unacceptable. Several bars and restaurants across Norway will go completely smoke-free on World No Tobacco Day this Saturday, to mark 10 years since smoking was banned inside venues. PHOTO: Emily Woodgate/newsinenglish.no

Locals enjoy a beer in the sun outside Parkteatret, a bar and concert venue in Oslo’s Grünerløkka district. Health organizations like the NAAF want smoking bans in bars and restaurants extended to all outdoor service areas, but the Cancer Society said a prohibition isn’t necessary because smoking is gradually becoming socially unacceptable. Several bars and restaurants across Norway will go completely smoke-free on World No Tobacco Day this Saturday, to mark 10 years since smoking was banned inside venues. PHOTO: Emily Woodgate/newsinenglish.no

Eateries including the Egon restaurant chain will put away the outdoor ashtrays on Saturday, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). It’s a measure NAAF wants to make permanent.

“We want the smoking laws to apply in outdoor serving areas too,” said General Secretary Trond Solvang. “People should be able to sit in the sun and enjoy themselves, without being plagued by smoke. It’ss estimated that 200,000 children in Norway are afflicted or affected by passive smoking. The number of children who have asthma and allegies is increasing, so we must take this seriously. There are several reasons for the increase, but it is undisputed that passive smoking is one of the most important causes.”

He said smokers can find other places to light up. “In service areas where you can buy food and drink, it can be smoke free,” said Solvang. “There was great opposition to the smoking laws when they arrived, but now it is a great pleasure. I think the same will happen if it is banned outdoors.”

Outdoor ban unnecessary
The Secretary General of the Cancer Society, Anne Lise Ryel, said being smoke-free was particularly important for places that serve food during the day, when families with children were around. “Tobacco is just as harmful outdoors as it is inside, even though the smoke disappears faster outside,” she said.

However, Ryel said it wasn’t necessary to introduce a permanent ban on smoking in outdoor areas, simply because the measure wasn’t needed. “The majority of the population doesn’t smoke, and most people want to have it smoke-free,” she said. “When it is something people want, you don’t need to take a detour to make a law. I think that this trend will develop quickly, and in a few years we’re going to look back and find it completely unthinkable that people actually smoked in outdoor service areas.”

She compared it to the way smoking used to be allowed on planes, a practice that was inconceivable today. Ryes did not believe it would turn people away from places with outdoor service. “I think that will only apply to bars and outdoor places of an evening,” she said. “But this arguement was also used 10 years ago. Many were convinced that no one would come, and venues would go bankrupt. Instead the opposite happened, and there has been little criticism of the law afterwards. I think the same will happen now.”

Ryel said as well as protecting staff and other customers from secondhand smoke, having less smoke around and fewer places where it was allowed would make it easier for smokers who want to quit, but find it difficult to do so.

Zoos, schools introduce bans
Kristiansand Zoo announced it would stamp out smoking completely, including in its outdoor serving areas, from Saturday. From July 1 all kinds of tobacco including cigarettes and snus will also be banned in Norwegian schools. The prohibition applies on school grounds, on school roads, and on school trips and excursions. Staff and visitors must leave the area to use tobacco.

NRK interviewed smokers enjoying the sun at tables outside a pub in Oslo’s Torshov district on Thursday. “We must consider those who are bothered by smoking,” said self-described social smoker Jørn Ljosland Larsen. “But it is still legal to smoke, so we should find a system that works for everyone.” He said if smoking was banned in beer gardens, he’d deal with it. “Then I would just have to move myself, that’s how it is. We survived the smoking laws, so we will survive this as well.”

“I find the exhaust from cars that drive past more annoying, that’s worse than a fresh cigar,” said Turid Mattson, who smokes a couple of cigars a month. “I will survive if this was not allowed of course, but I would find that sad.”

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate