New smoking law attacked from both sides

While the opposition argues the government’s new smoking law is far too strict, anti-smoking charities say it does not go far enough

April 23rd, 2012 11:02 am| by admin
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Farmers will still be allowed to light up while driving their tractor and crane operators will continue to puff away as they move construction material from a great height.

But following the government’s new smoking law that was agreed on last Saturday with support from Enhedslisten, many will find their right to smoke has been taken away from them – and completely unnecessarily, argues opposition party Venstre (V).

“We think that the current smoking laws are perfectly adequate and that there are far more important things to debate,” V’s health spokesperson, Sophie Løhde, said. “Citizens can think for themselves and don’t need detailed manuals from the government.”

The new law will ban smoking in education institutions for children and youths as well as in single-person offices, though there will be exceptions for company cars,  trucks and cranes as long as there is only person present in the vehicle at the time.

Dansk Folkeparti (DF) were also vocal critics of the new smoking law, arguing that the ban on smoking in single-person offices is over-protective while schools are already good at introducing their own anti-smoking policies.

“I actually think that the new smoking law will mean more people will become exposed to tobacco smoke as everyone files outside to smoke by the entrances to buildings,” Henrik Thulesen Dahl from DF said. "They become more visible and so may also inspire more people to smoke."

The health minister, Astrid Krag (Socialistisk Folkeparti) dismissed Dahl’s criticisms.

“Our deal focused on ensuring that children and youths are not exposed to the damaging effects of smoking,” Krag said. “We have a duty to help young people make the healthy choice and if we can keep them from starting to smoke then we have made an important step toward a healthier Denmark.”

Over at the national cancer society, Kræftens Bekæmpelse, there is disappointment that the smoking laws do not go far enough.

“We have sadly seen that the number of young smokers has not dropped in recent years,” Kræftens Bekæmpelse's CEO, Leif Vesterfaarg Pedersen, said. He added, however, that the ban on smoking at educational institutions for children and youths would help.

“But we are disappointed that smoke won’t be completely removed. While it’s good that smoking will be banned in single-person offices, smoking rooms and cabins will still be allowed. We know that smoking cabins cannot completely remove tobacco’s dangerous chemicals effectively. Smoking cabins mean that many people will be involuntarily exposed to tobacco smoke at work.”

Factfile – New smoking laws

  • Total ban on smoking at education institutions for children and youths, such as day care institutions, primary and middle schools and high schools.
  • Total ban on smoking in single-person offices.
  • Increased fines for breaking the smoking law and for selling tobacco to youths under 18. In both cases a first offence will cost 5,000 kroner, a second 10,000 kroner and a third 20,000 kroner.
  • Increased support for people wanting to quit including 1.5 million kroner for the marketing of the help line, Stoplinien.

Exceptions:

  • Work vehicles that are only operated by one person at a time, such as tractors, cranes and trucks are exempt from the ban on smoking in single-person offices.
  • Youths may smoke outdoors on the premises of educational institutions that can be considered their home, such as boarding schools, where they are also entitled to smoke indoors in smoking rooms as well as their private rooms.
  • Staff are permitted to smoke in their private homes on the premises of educational institutions so long as students are not present.
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