The ban covers smoking in “all public places where food and drinks are manufactured, sold and consumed” and affects many restaurants and cafes which are currently exempt under a 2009 law.
Most restaurant and cafe owners are strongly opposed to a total ban as they say their businesses will suffer and complain that they invested millions of euros to create smoking and non-smoking areas.
Business owners who break the law will face a €2,000 fine and smokers caught smoking in restaurants, cafes and bars will be fined €100. Alongside cigarettes and cigars, the law also covers e-cigarettes and shisha pipes.
The ban will also be enforced in schools and open spaces where children and teenagers are supervised – including sports clubs and rehearsal spaces. It will not cover private club rooms used by adults. Smoking will also be banned in hotel rooms and bed and breakfasts, but “strictly separate” smoking areas will be provided.
There are tax incentives for businesses who enforce the ban before July 1st 2016. A tax bonus of 30 percent will apply, the value of which is related to previous costs in setting up smoking and non-smoking areas.
Austria has some of the worst smoking statistics in Europe – with only Greeks, Bulgarians and Latvians smoking more. Around 14,000 people a year die in Austria from tobacco-related illnesses.
A large majority is expected to vote for the bill in parliament, with only the right-wing Freedom Party and Team Stronach voting against it – saying that it endangers Austria’s bar and cafe culture and smacks of a ‘nanny state’.