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Eur J Public Health. 2013 Feb;23(1):139-45. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckr173. Epub 2011 Dec 5.

Failure of policy regarding smoke-free bars in the Netherlands.

Author information

1
Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-1390, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Tobacco companies consistently work to prevent and undermine smoke-free laws. The tobacco industry and its allies have funded hospitality associations and other third parties to oppose smoke-free laws, argue that smoke-free laws will economically damage hospitality venues, promote ventilation and voluntary smoker 'accommodation' as an alternative to smoke-free laws, and to challenge smoke-free laws in court. In 2008, the Netherlands extended its smoke-free law to hospitality venues.

METHODS:

We triangulated news articles, government documents, scientific papers, statistical reports and interviews to construct this case study.

RESULTS:

Despite widespread public support for smoke-free hospitality venues, opponents successfully represented these laws as unpopular and damaging to small bars. These challenges and related smokers' rights activities resulted in non-compliance among all bars and reinstating an exemption for small, owner-run venues. This policy reversal was the result of a weak implementing media campaign (which failed to present the law as protecting nonsmokers), smoking room exemptions and reactive (vs. proactive) measures by the Ministry of Health and civil society.

CONCLUSION:

The policy failure in the Netherlands is the result of poor implementation efforts and the failure to anticipate and deal with opposition to the law. When implementing smoke-free laws it is important to anticipate opposition, used the media to target non-smokers to reinforce public support, and actively enforce the law.

PMID:
22143826
PMCID:
PMC3553585
DOI:
10.1093/eurpub/ckr173
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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