More than four out of five pubs in Germany make use of legal loopholes or flout the rules to allow people to smoke, almost three years after a ban, a study by health campaigners showed on Tuesday.
The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), which sent a team to tour almost 3,000 pubs, bars and restaurants in 10 cities including Berlin, Munich and Duesseldorf for the study, called the results "alarming."
"If someone wants to go for a beer in the evening they have to look for a long time until they find a place where they are not forced to passive-smoke," said the DKFZ, Germany's largest biomedical research centre.
Smoking has been banned in German bars and restaurants since July 2008, but there are widespread exceptions allowing it in separate rooms and in pubs under a certain size. Rules also differ among Germany's 16 states.
"The rules governing exceptions on protecting non-smokers are neither practical nor effective. In most states they can be said to have been a failure," the DKFZ said.
"Germany desperately needs a simple, comprehensive and blanket law ... as has already been implemented with success in many other countries in the European Union."
It said that tests showed that separate smoking rooms failed to stop potentially harmful air particles wafting into non-smoking areas.