Share article:
Share article:

Brussels bars and cafés fail to enforce indoor smoking ban

Cafes are failing to implement an indoor smoking ban. Credit: © Belga

Several establishments in Brussels continue to allow customers to light up indoors, violating regulations on indoor smoking implemented almost a decade ago, recent health inspections revealed.

Checks carried out in July saw federal health inspectors visit 97 different bars and cafés in municipalities across the Brussels-Capital Region, such as Forest, Anderlecht, Schaerbeek, and Molenbeek.

Over half (53) were not in compliance with the ban, and inspectors drew up a total of 43 official reports against the establishment’s owners, with an additional 19 reports targeting indoor smokers caught red-handed, De Standaard reported.

A general ban on indoor smoking in all food and drinking establishment came into force in 2011 and included not only cigarettes but also e-cigarettes and water pipes.

Almost ten years into the ban, the infringements prove that regular onsite inspections remain necessary to ensure compliance, chief inspector Paul Van den Meerssche said.

“It’s a mentality problem,” he said. “The rules are there, but people do not necessarily believe that they must be observed.”

The checks also highlighted a trend which sees officials in Brussels adopt a more lax approach to violations of the ban than their Flemish or Walloon counterparts.

While Van den Meerssche explained that noncompliant establishments in those regions were often faced with fines or even temporary closures, offenders in Brussels were most often given an administrative fine and later referred to the prosecutor’s office.

“Given [prosecutors’] high workload and major responsibilities, such as terrorism, the smoking ban is not immediately a priority” and the fine is often dismissed, he said.

Additionally, the chief inspector said that competent authorities in Brussels were understaffed, operating with only two out of the required four inspectors.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Pharmaceutical companies looking into vaccines against new variant
Pharmaceutical companies have sprung into action to look into vaccine protection against the new coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, ...
Belgium imposes entry ban on travellers from southern Africa
Belgium is introducing an entry ban for travellers from several countries in the south of Africa following concerns about a new variant (B.1.1.529) ...
What Ursula did next
BRUSSELS BEHIND THE SCENES • Weekly analysis and untold stories
Nightclub closures, limiting contacts: These rules come into force today
Just over one week after its last meeting, Belgium's Consultative Committee on Friday once again announced a set of new measures to curb the rising ...
Almost 3,500 Covid-19 patients in hospitals as new cases continue to skyrocket
The number of new coronavirus cases in Belgium is continuing to rise, and with it the number of Covid-19 patients who are hospitalised as a result of ...
ECDC issues threat assessment about new COVID-19 variant, WHO designates it as a variant of concern
Preliminary data on the risks of the new COVID variant of concern is high, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said late ...
EU decides to activate emergency brake against new COVID-variant but stops short of flight ban
The new COVID variant detected in South Africa has put the EU on alert and prompted the Council’s Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) to ...
Cheat Sheet: New Rules, Quiet December Nights
It's been a while since we've had measures complicated enough to deserve a cheat sheet, but less than a week after Belgium rolled out new measures, ...
Belgium records highest number of new cases since start of pandemic
An average of 16,762 infections per day is now recorded in Belgium, with an absolute record of more than 25,000 infections in one day last Monday, ...
Brexit: trade and travel disrupted as French fishermen blockade ports and Eurotunnel
On Friday, the national committee for the French fishing industry has coordinated a blockade of three French ports as well as lorries bearing freight ...
Belgium implements ‘package of strict measures’
Not even a week after the previous measures came into force, Belgium is taking stricter measures to stop the fourth wave in the country, announced ...
Even with strong action now, ‘we will still have a few weeks of misery,’ says Vlieghe
Even if the Consultative Committee takes powerful and clear decisions today, Belgium will still have to endure a few weeks of misery while the number ...