De Duitsers kregen van de Engelsen te horen dat de
pubs na het rookverbod geweldig opleefden. De Engelsen accepteerden die leugen.
De Duitsers eerst ook, totdat ze hoorden dat ze door hun eigen overheid werden
voorgelogen en omzetten met 50% zakten. En dat in Engeland het slecht gaat met
de pubs. Toen werden de rookverboden snel drastisch aangepast. De
versnellingspook ging in de achteruit.
Gaan wij ons ook laten voorliegen of volgen we de
Duitsers in het verzet?!
Een artikel in het Engelse horeca-vakblad de Publican
beschrijft hoe veel realistischer Duitsers kunnen zijn dan
There’s a war going on in Germany, and this time they’re winning.
I’m talking about the German smoking ban, currently jammed firmly in reverse gear. Angela Merkel’s government has faithfully copied the tactics employed by our own beloved Nu-Labour – lies, propaganda and junk science – yet they’ve failed miserably in theface of people-power.
Remember when we were being told our pubs had nothing to fear from the smoking ban? How commercially successful it had been in Ireland and the USA, where bars were teeming with ‘new’ customers?
In my discussions with German landlords and their customers, when I inform them of the damage it’s doing to our own licenced trade I’m always met with gobsmacked, shocked surprise.
“No-oooo! You Englishers WANTED your smoking ban! Your pubs are all very busy now, we know this. Ya?”
They’re being spoon-fed the same diet of State-sponsored bull***t that we were. They are told we Brits have all ’embraced’ our ban, that our pubs and clubs have never been so busy, and that most smokers are giving up the weed as a direct result.
Amazingly they have all heard of the “Scottish Miracle”, where heart attacks were virtually wiped out within one year of Scotland’s smoking ban. I always said that lie would run and run – now we’re exporting it.
The Germans blame you and me for their smoking ban, believing it’s us Brits who are arrogantly imposing our current obsession with health matters on the rest of Europe. If only they knew the truth.
All I could do was bleat on about… yes, we have meekly accepted the ban without putting up a fight but under our elected dictatorship we had little choice. “Ve vere only following orders. For us ze var ist over”.
But the Germans are made of sterner stuff and their smoking ban has a troubled history. In 2006 Angela Merkel’s government introduced a nationwide blanket smoking ban. Within days it was humiliatingly repealed following massive public outcry and a series of legal challenges.
You see the German people are constitutionally protected from State-imposed unpopular laws, originally to protect them from any Nazi resurgence. So the ban was passed on for decision at local level in Germany’s 16 different states.
The end result has been a patchwork quilt of watered-down restrictions which has thrown up all sorts of daft anomalies. In a small town near Trier, for example, I found a Shisha Cafe next door to a large, traditional tavern where smoking was banned.
The owner told me his wet sales had plummeted by 50% as customers had simply moved to the town’s smaller bars where smoking was permitted.
In fact most states have opted for ‘soft’ smoking restrictions, where larger premises need merely to provide separate smoking and non-smoking rooms.
Bavaria had introduced the harshest bans, with smoking even banned inside the vast drinking tents of the annual Oktoberfest. Hardly surprising as the state is governed by the sister party to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
However last month Bavarian voters gave them an absolute roasting in the local elections, barely two months after the ban was introduced. Now those same, previously ‘anti’ politicians are back-pedalling furiously having decided they now hate smoking bans.
Indoor smoking is already back on at the Oktoberfest, also in Munich and Nuremberg’s historical brauhouses. Exemptions still in the pipeline will include fairer rules for most bars and even some restaurants.
This bizarre spectacle has been nervously scrutinised by other hard-line states who are moving heaven and earth to soften their restrictions.
In Berlin enforcement of their ban has been deferred until August while, following court action by a consortium of bar owners, small bars are to be exempt provided they display signs to warn customers they are entering a smoking venue.
Similar court cases are being heard all over Germany, much to the chagrin of German antis. Otmar Wiestler, leader of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ, their equivalent of our CRUK) is enraged at this turn of events.
“We are miles away from implementing comprehensive protection for non-smokers,” said Wiestler.
Despite the positive news there are a great many German landlords losing out through this uncertainty. The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga), which actively rallies against the ban, has released a report claiming that 58 percent of their member establishments have seen a sharp drop in business in 2008.
Uli Stegmaier, a Berlin barkeeper and father of five children, hanged himself last month having left a suicide note blaming the new public smoking ban for his decision.
Significantly ASH-uk highlighted this in their daily bulletin, as if it were something to gloat about.
But in general the anti-ban lobby are tipping the scales. There are regular demonstrations where thousands of bar owners march to raise awareness of their fears.
What I can’t help but notice is a sense of unity about what they are doing. There are very few pubcos in Germany so representative bodies reflect the bar owner’s interests, not the misguided greed of men-in-suits.
German ‘community bar’ owners have mobilised their customers who are only too willing to support them. Petitions abound everywhere and they are quite prepared to “fight them on the beaches”.
Plus Germany has no equivalent of ASH, the obsessive, powerful state-sponsored ‘charity’ with a vested interest in the decimation of our pubs. Antis have far linfluence in Germany where the words ‘majority opinion’ aren’t considered offensive.
Which begs the question we must all ask ourselves: if the Germans can fight to successfully gain a fair interpretation of anti-smoking laws at what point will we follow suit?
When we’ve lost half of our pubs? Two-thirds? Or never?