Austria falls in line with Europe to ban smoking in restaurants
Austria on Friday finally decided to ban smoking in cafes and restaurants from 2018 after years of debate in a country famed for its cafe culture.
"We have at last joined Europe in terms of protecting non-smokers," Health Minister Sabine Oberhauser said.
Smoking is banned in public places in Austria under a 2009 law but restaurants and cafes are exempted and the government admits that the legislation is not tightly enforced.
Austria figures among Western European countries where cigarettes are cheapest. A third of its population are smokers against an EU average of 28 percent, according to a study conducted in 2012.
The country has smoking areas in public places such as supermarkets. The anti-smoking law is being opposed by many restaurant and cafe owners and the Austrian chamber of commerce has said it is mulling whether to file a suit in the constitutional court.
© 2015 AFP