France and Germany are both introducing smoking bans this year.

The German Government has however scrapped proposals to introduce a nationwide ban on smoking in public places following concerns that its plans were unconstitutional and that it did not in fact have the power to ban smoking at State level. Instead it has opted simply to ban smoking in all Federal buildings, including schools, hospitals and government offi ces. The country’s 16 States will now determine their own rules for restaurants and businesses. They are currently in the process of setting up a working group to see if they can agree a common set of rules, but no decisions will be taken until March at the earliest. The Government’s stance means that whilst Germany has one of the highest rates of tobacco use in Europe it will probably also have some of the most liberal smoking laws, at least in the short term.

France also banned smoking in public places from 1 February 2007, although cafes, nightclubs and restaurants have been given until 2008 to comply with the new legislation. France decided to introduce a ban after Government statistics showed that 60,000 deaths a year there are linked directly to tobacco consumption.

Italy and Spain have already introduced partial bans on smoking in public places and England is set to introduce a smoking ban in July 2007. The European Commission is now consulting on proposals to introduce an EU-wide ban on smoking in public places, including offices. The consultation period ends on 1 May.