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Industry groups protest Dutch smoking ban

Outlawing the use of smoking rooms by arenas and other music venues is unfair – and could have safety implications – say VNPF and VVEM

By Jon Chapple on 19 Feb 2018


image © Cheryl Holt

Representatives of the Netherlands’ two major live music industry associations have written to Dutch health minister Paul Blokhuis to appeal a recent legal ruling that outlaws smoking in music venues.

As a result of a decision by the Hague’s court of appeal on 13 February, indoor smoking rooms are no longer permitted in cafés, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, concert halls and other venues where food may be served. Although smoking has been prohibited indoors in the Netherlands since 2008, these venues were previously excluded from the ban – a position the court now says violates the United Nations’ framework convention on tobacco control.

The decision was met with dismay by the Dutch Promoters and Festivals Association (VNPF) and Association of Event Producers (VVEM) – which between them represent major arenas such as Amsterdam ArenA, GelreDome, AFAS Live and Ziggo Dome, along with more than 400 festivals and events – with the associations warning, among other things, that forcing smokers outdoors presents a danger to public safety.

The letter, seen by Entertainment Business, urges Blokhuis to consider appealing against the judgment on a number of grounds.

The associations say that to force smokers to light up outside “is impossible and irresponsible”

Among their objections are that the ban creates legal inequality – penalising venues while allowing offices and other public spaces to continuing to provide indoor smoking rooms – and makes existing smoking rooms, often built at significant cost to the venues, worthless without providing for compensation.

On the safety front, meanwhile, the associations say that to force smokers to light up outside “is impossible and irresponsible”. “The objective of a good promoter is to keep visitors safe and secure,” the letter reads, saying “it is simply impossible and unsafe” having “thousands and thousands of people [walking] in and out” of major venues such as the 17,000-cap. Ziggo Dome to smoke.

“For the entire event sector,” they conclude, “it is of the utmost importance that clarification is soon given about whether smoking rooms may or may not be used” by music venues.


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