The Public Health Minister’s office revealed that 3,000 inspections led to the conclusion that 16% of cafés do not enforce anti-smoking legislation. “This is fewer than last year but the figure needs to be reduced faster,” explains Paul Van den Meerssche, in charge of inspections at the Public Health Minister’s office, in answer to questions from the Mediahuis press group on Thursday.
Smoking in cafés has been banned since 2011 but in spite of potentially heavy fines, cafés are not enforcing this legislation. “Fines went up at the end of the previous legislative term. The maximum fine went from 1,600 euros to 5,000 euros, and cafés can now be shut down,” explains Mr. Van den Meerssche. Plainclothes inspectors are sometimes verbally or physically abused.