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'Smoking sheriff' gives up fight

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'Smoking sheriff' gives up fight
Smoker. File photo: Christoph Schmidt/dpa
12:39 CEST+02:00
A self-appointed “smoking sheriff” has given up his fight trying to enforce a smoking ban in Viennese restaurants.

"The right to smoke-free air and physical integrity in our state is apparently worth nothing," the man, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the APA press agency.  

The Supreme Court (OGH) recently upheld a local restaurant ban against the man - who was visiting the restaurants to check that they were enforcing a smoking ban.

"I have decided, due to the Supreme Court ruling, to cease my non-smoking activities and to make no more reports about violations of the smoking laws," the man said.

He added that the court obviously valued a restaurant’s house rules more highly than protecting the public from second hand smoke.

The man made 1,000 reports about restaurants that he felt were contravening the smoking ban, which he estimated had "brought the state an estimated €300,000 in fines". However, he said that he had been "financially ruined by the process."

The Supreme Court ruled that there was "no public interest in an additional 'private police'."

The Chief Justice said that by picking fights with restaurant owners the man was disturbing the peace, rather than promoting it. He added that “totalitarian states use individuals to monitor and inform against other employees”, something that should not be condoned and was not in the public interest.

Current partial smoking bans have failed to lower smoker numbers in Austria, which remain the same as in 2005.

Austrian law prohibits smoking in all enclosed public spaces with certain exceptions for eating and drinking establishments. Smoking in the workplace can be permitted if no employee objects.

However, the smoking ban has been controversial, as the rules are widely ignored by bar and café owners and not actively enforced by the authorities.

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