Society & Policy

Norway bans smoking in bars

As of today it is no longer allowed to smoke in restaurants, cafés, discos, bars and pubs. "It would be an act of gross negligence if we did not protect staff against smoke in the working place", said Minister of Health Dagfinn Høybråten

01/06/2004 :: The main purpose of the bill is to protect staff and guests against passive smoking.

Employees in restaurants and bars are the only group of people in Norway today that have no effective legal protection against passive smoking at their working place. Research has shown that waiters and barkeepers have a significantly higher risk of acquiring lung cancer than other groups of employees.

An American study has also shown that after only 4 weeks of the smoking ban in restaurants in California, the health of the employees had improved.

Historic milestone
Norway is the second nation in the world after Ireland to ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

"I see it as an important task and a political responsibility to pave the way for improved public health. The use of tobacco is the number one cause of preventable diseases and premature deaths in the population. Reducing tobacco consumption is therefore a challenge that I give high priority in my position as minister of health", said Mr Høybråten during the debate in Parliament.

Mr Høybråten calls the ban a 'historic milestone' in the struggle against diseases caused by tobacco.

One in four smoke in Norway. 350 to 550 non-smokers die annually as a result of passive smoking. 120 000 patients with asthmatic disorders have been partially unable to visit restaurants where smoking is allowed.

Opinion polls show that the majority of Norwegians support the ban.

Norway's smoking ban:

  • Smoking is not allowed where food and/or drink is served
  • Bars and restaurants will not be allowed to reserve special rooms for smokers
  • Smoking will be allowed in outdoor cafes, as long as the smoke doesn't filter in to the cafe's indoor area
  • Owners of eating and drinking establishments must enforce the smoking ban
  • Smoking rooms will be allowed for employees, as long as similar rest areas for non-smokers have at least as high a standard

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Minister of Health Dagfinn Høybråten: 'In a few years we'll look back and ask: "Why on earth didn't we do this earlier?"'