It's a strange world. Under new Dutch national health guidelines set to go into effect in January, smoking will be banned in all public places -- including the country's famous cannabis coffee houses, whose customers seek out to light up in a convivial atmosphere. Although the new rule is aimed at tobacco, the coffee houses will be not be excluded.

The smoking ban has already generated tremendous opposition from bar and restaurant owners in the Netherlands, where one-third of the adult population smokes tobacco. The industry has won a one-year exemption from implementing the new rules, in part by arguing that the ban would cost 50,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in revenues annually. But no such extension has been granted for the country's 800 coffee houses, which attract tourists by the millions each year.

Health Ministry spokesman Bas Kuik told the Associated Press the law was not aimed at the coffee shops, adding that they could create designated smoking areas, while Willem van den Oetelaar, head of Clean Air Now, the anti-smoking lobby that spearheaded the drive for the ban, said that while banning pot smoking in the coffee houses was not the intended purpose of the campaign, he still supported it. "It's not our priority, but it is a good thing," he said.

Clean Air runs a telephone hot line for complaints about smoking in public places, Van de Oetelaar

It's a strange world. Under new Dutch national health guidelines set to go into effect in January, smoking will be banned in all public places -- including the country's famous cannabis coffee houses, whose customers seek out to light up in a convivial atmosphere. Although the new rule is aimed at tobacco, the coffee houses will be not be excluded.

The smoking ban has already generated tremendous opposition from bar and restaurant owners in the Netherlands, where one-third of the adult population smokes tobacco. The industry has won a one-year exemption from implementing the new rules, in part by arguing that the ban would cost 50,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in revenues annually. But no such extension has been granted for the country's 800 coffee houses, which attract tourists by the millions each year.

Health Ministry spokesman Bas Kuik told the Associated Press the law was not aimed at the coffee shops, adding that they could create designated smoking areas, while Willem van den Oetelaar, head of Clean Air Now, the anti-smoking lobby that spearheaded the drive for the ban, said that while banning pot smoking in the coffee houses was not the intended purpose of the campaign, he still supported it. "It's not our priority, but it is a good thing," he said.

Clean Air runs a telephone hot line for complaints about smoking in public places, Van de Oetelaar said. It had received about 2,000 complaints since October, not one about a coffee shop.

No word yet from coffee shop owners about a response.

-- END --
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Issue #289, 5/30/03 Editorial: For Decency's Sake, No More No-Knock Drug Raids | Canadian Government Introduces Cannabis Decriminalization Bill | Ed Rosenthal to be Sentenced Wednesday -- Could Escape Mandatory Minimum as Pleas for Leniency Roll In, Supporters Prepare to Rally | DRCNet Book Review: "Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use," by Jacob Sullum (Tarcher & Putnam, 24.95 HB) | Democratic Presidential Contender Endorses Medical Marijuana -- Ohio's Kucinich First Out of the Gate | Saying Yes: New Book Offer from DRCNet | Action Alerts: Medical Marijuana, HEA Drug Provision, Global Legalization and Drug Treaty Reform Petition | Newsbrief: NYPD Under Fire in Death of Woman in Botched Drug Raid | Newsbrief: Federal Hepatitis C Control and Prevention Bill Filed | Newsbrief: Mississippi Drug Czar Not One to Let the Law Get in His Way | Newsbrief: The Hash Fields of Morocco | Newsbrief: Dutch Coffee Shops Take Hit in Anti-Tobacco Campaign | Newsbrief: New Zealand to War on Evil Meth | Newsbrief: Garcia Marquez Takes Back His Legalization Comments, Sort Of | Newsbrief: Gambian Narcs Mar Marley Remembrance with Raids | Newsbrief: Japanese Author, Legalization Advocate Gets Suspended Sentence for Marijuana Possession | Reflections Seeking Submissions for Special Issue on Prison | The Reformer's Calendar
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