The number of complaints about not respecting the smoking ban has reduced significantly, according to figures provided by Health Minister Maggie De Block. The figures were requested by MP Yoleen Van Camp (New Flemish Alliance).
The general smoking ban in enclosed public spaces, in particular catering establishments, came into force in July 2011. In 2012, the Health SPF received 1,327 complaints, mainly in Dutch (1,166). It dropped to 953 in 2013, and to 318 last year.
Between 2012 and 2016, there were 25,396 checks in Flanders, 4,766 in Brussels and 18,288 in Wallonia. 52% of these were in cafés and nightclubs, and 32% were shops. There were 3,632 fines handed out in Flanders, 384 in Brussels and 1,088 in Wallonia.
Around a quarter of the checks were done late evening or at night. 22% of establishments that broke the ban at this time were cafés. “The owners seem to think there will be no checks at night”, the Minister said.
The Service for the Control of Alcohol and Tobacco had 36 inspectors in 2016, ten more than in 2012.