The Dutch are planning to stop tourists from buying and smoking cannabis in Amsterdam and other cities.
The famous coffee shops, where small amounts of cannabis have been legally bought and smoked since 1976, have become a major industry and a popular attraction for many visitors. Turnover is estimated to be in the region of £1.6 billion ($2.7 billion) per year.
But the Dutch government wants to stop ‘drug tourism’ and is planning a system under which licensed coffee shops would have to introduce a members-only pass. This would prevent non-locals from buying the drugs.
In July, a government commission declared: “Coffee shops should again become what they were originally meant to be: vending points for local users and not large-scale suppliers to consumers from neighbouring countries. The situation has got out of hand.”
But Raymond Dufour of the Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation says there could be a challenge to the ban in the courts. “We have a problem with European law here, as all European citizens should be treated equally,” he said.
He said there was also the danger that the trade would be driven underground as in many other cities.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique has a first rate selection of luxury hotels in Amsterdam and many other Dutch cities.
Fears have been expressed that the ban on smoking in public places in the UK is killing off the traditional British pub.
On the second anniversary of the ban, a group of publicans, led by the TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson, wrote to a national newspaper calling for an easing of the rules.
Worrall Thompson says about 40 pubs are closing every week and many others are laying off staff in a desperate attempt to survive. He concedes that the downturn and the punitive duties on alcohol are factors, but says an amendment to the blanket ban on smoking would help.
The group hope that the Spanish system might be considered. There, venues with limited floor space can choose to be smoking or non-smoking, but larger venues can have a designated, fully-partitioned smoking room.
Worrall Thompson, who’s patron of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “Pubs and clubs used to be bastions of adult entertainment where young and old could meet and chat over a pint without the health police looking over their shoulders.”
“Modern ventilation systems combined with separate rooms make it perfectly acceptable to smoke indoors. The legislation as it stands is excessive and I would like to see it amended.”
Smoking bans in public places and offices are in force in many parts of Europe and widely in other parts of the world, and clearly the arguments for and against are set to continue.
by Andy Moreton
It was always going to be a challenge – a smoking ban in the land of Gauloises and Gitanes.
DNF Smoking Ad
The French seemed to have embraced - somewhat reluctantly - the idea of pollution-free bars and restaurants, but the association representing non-smokers, the DNF, has highlighted a problem.
Eating out in Paris
It says the ban is being cancelled out by the existence of smoking terraces, whether these are semi-covered or entirely closed. The DNF’s study found that tiny particles from cigarettes were present in large numbers in the non-smoking sections of 250 bars and restaurants in France.
“Pollution comes in through doors when they are open all the time, but also through air vents and air extraction systems,” said the study. The association wants the government to tighten the rules by sealing off smoking terraces completely from no-smoking areas.
And another thing … environmentalists say the sharp rise in the number of outside heaters used on these terraces is an ecological disaster.
It’s not just the smoking ban that’s hitting the French café trade. Changing attitudes and the poor economic climate are contributing to the loss of two cafes a day.
Honore de Balzac wrote: “The bar of a café is the parliament of the people,” but it’s clear it’s being visited less frequently these days, especially by the young.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique offers a range of top places to stay throughout France, including an unrivalled range of luxury hotels in Paris.