"Will Austria become the ashtray of the whole of Europe?": the tobacco ban is being lifted in the country, but the Austrians are againstBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/will-austria-become-the-ashtray-of-the-whole-of-europe-the-tobacco-ban-is-being-lifted-in-the-country-but-the-austrians-are-against
The new Austrian government has decided to defy Western trends and lift the ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places. This controversial decision of the Austrian Freedom Party caused a great resonance, doctors were confused, but ordinary citizens decided that they probably did not need such freedoms. In a short time, a petition to ban smoking in public catering places has gained more than 100 thousand signatures and will be considered in parliament.
Source: The Local
The law banning smoking in bars and restaurants in Austria was adopted back in 2015 and was supposed to come into force in May 2018, but the current government (conservatives from the People's Party and the right-wing from the Freedom Party) decided to postpone its action.
The initiator of the cancellation was the leader of the Freedom Party, Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, who said in January in parliament that the ban on smoking restricts the freedom of choice of citizens. Restaurants, Strache said, should have the freedom to choose whether they need a smoking room, where a citizen decides for himself whether he wants to enjoy a cigarette, pipe or cigar over coffee.
The decision to lift the ban has thrown Austrian medical circles into confusion. Dr. Manfred Neuberger, a retired professor at the Vienna Medical University, considers the lifting of the ban a disaster for healthcare.
The Austrian Medical Association invited citizens to sign a petition banning smoking in public catering establishments. It turned out to be so popular that the registration of signatures on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs had to be suspended for two hours on Friday, because the ministry's servers were overloaded. The collection of signatures began on February 15, and in less than 72 hours more than one hundred thousand people signed the petition.
Meanwhile, the Austrian Freedom Party, the majority of whose members oppose the smoking ban, called the civil initiative "frivolous." But the representative of the party Dagmar Belakovich did not rule out the possibility of a ban, "if the people really want it."
Austria is one of the most smoking countries in the world: 47% of the population (almost half of them are women) are addicted to tobacco here. The cost of a pack of cigarettes, both imported and manufactured in Austria, starts from 5 euros. This is one of the lowest prices in Western Europe.