Smoking will be prohibited on public transport station platforms from 1 January 2023 onward, as the Mobility Committee of the Chamber approved the bill on Wednesday.
Tabled by Ecolo-Groen, the Green Parties in Flanders and Wallonia, the law aims to fight against passive smoking while also acting as a preventive measure. The authors of the text, Nicolas Parent and Kim Buyst, say "seeing smoking gets people smoking."
"Our bill responds to calls from 'Tobacco-Free Generations' and the Foundation against Cancer, given the number of deaths linked to smoking that is still way too high," they said. "The objective is to gradually ensure younger generations are no longer exposed to tobacco in public spaces."
The Netherlands has already enforced an identical measure in 2020 with success, as the majority of passengers agree with the measure.
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The ban will also put an end to confusion about where smoking is legal, as travellers are often unaware of where it is and is not allowed, whether in stations, corridors or platforms, Parent added.
Two parties (N-VA and Vlaams Belang) abstained from voting, citing a fear that the measure would move smokers to concentrate at station entrances.
The PTB voted against the bill, arguing it would be difficult to enforce, and an additional risk of aggression against staff can further complicate its enforcement.
However, Melissa Hanus of the Socialist Party (PS) assured that the union for railway workers (CGSP-Cheminots) had been contacted regarding this issue. “Otherwise, we would not have voted for the text,” she said.