Non-Smoker’s Guide to Europe’s Smoking Laws

Here is the rundown on the smoking rules in European countries. We are always on the lookout for countries that have decided to go smoke-free or at least make it easier for non-smokers to eat out.


The Austrian republic is one of Europe’s last refuges for smokers; it is still resisting the smoking bans in effect in other EU countries. However, the state-run railways OeBB have been non-smoking from September 1, 2007. Austria’s Health Minister Andrea Kdolsky is considering introducing smoking rules in restaurants and cafes by 2008. A 2005 law that forbids smoking in public places ( but specifically excludes cafes and restaurants) would be reinforced from January 1, 2008 to require larger restaurants to split their dining areas 50-50 between smoking and non-smoking sections. Smaller eateries would have to decide whether they were smoking or non-smoking establishments and put up a sign declaring their choice.


As of September 1, 2007, smoking is banned in public places in all of Germany. But local laws regulate smoking in restaurants and cafes in their own jurisdiction, so you will see some differences in how the law is carried out by each German state.German trains and train stations however, have banned smoking entirely. Some of the larger train stations have special smoking rooms available for those who need their nicotine fix before or after their smoke-free voyage.


In 2004, Ireland became the first country in the world to impose an outright ban on smoking in workplaces. Irish legislation makes it an offence to smoke in workplaces, which effectively bans smoking in pubs and restaurants.


An official ban on smoking in all enclosed public places was imposed in Italy on January 10, 2005. This law obliges restaurants, bars, offices and factories to prohibit tobacco use on their premises unless they are able to provide special sealed off rooms with smoke extractors. Because few retailers were able to fulfill this condition, it is now practically impossible to smoke in any public place. A fine of up to 2,000 Euros could be levied on businesses which fail to comply with this law. And smokers may be fined up to 275 Euros which can be doubled if a smoker lights up in front of children or pregnant women.


Except in designated smoking zones, smoking is not permitted indoors in public buildings and other places open to the public. Smoking zones are not available in facilities for children and other persons under eighteen. Smoking is also prohibited on trains, trams, buses or aircraft, schools and other educational institutions, offices and other places of work.


Since February 1, 2007 smoking was banned in workplaces and other public buildings and will expand in 2008 to include cafes, restaurants and bars. Many restaurants have already become smoke-free or offer non-smoking sections.

The Netherlands

On January 1, 2004, cigarettes were banned from many public places including railway stations, trains, toilets and offices.


A national ban was imposed on smoking in restaurants, bars and cafes from June 1, 2004


Since May, 2005 smoking has been prohibited in all bars and restaurants. Establishments wanting to allow smoking are required to have a closed-off section with specially-designed ventilation, where no food or drink can be served.

United Kingdom

Smoking is banned in nearly all enclosed public spaces – including bars, restaurants and workplaces. The ban came into effect in England on July 1, 2006. Scotland introduced a ban in March 2006, followed by Wales and Northern Ireland in April 2007.