Achieving a breakthrough for non-smoker protection: Annual General Meeting 2022 of Pro Rauchfrei

17.10.2022  Informing, advising, right to sue, lobbying: Pro Rauchfrei presented its activities for the protection of non-smokers at its annual general meeting on 8 October.

The situation: advertising for tobacco and nicotine products is flooding the market, the smoking rate has reached a 30-year high of over 37 per cent and tobacco waste cannot be brought under control. Bad times for the protection of non-smokers, young people and the environment. – Despite this, passive smoking protection and tobacco prevention are nowhere to be found on the political agenda. All of the federal government’s resources are taken up with the planned legalisation of cannabis. Not even the comparatively simple law banning smoking in cars in the presence of minors and pregnant women has been finalised. Germany is “dead certain” to remain stuck in last place on the European tobacco control scale.

What has Pro Rauchfrei done and what else can be done were the central questions at the general meeting.

Actions we took in the past year:

  • Informing the public about new developments and campaigns, our legal work and the harmful potential of tobacco consumption
  • Advising and helping with complaints about smoking nuisance in the home, at work and during leisure time
  • Issueing warnings for violations against the protection of non-smokers and young people as well as advertising bans
  • Submitting statements, proposals and draft legislation to political decision-makers

For example, a compilation of countries with a ban on smoking in cars when minors are present, including a link to the legal texts, served to provide information.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 30 people have contacted us seeking advice on the topic of smoke-free living. It should be of interest to all landlords that a smoking ban in the flat and on the balcony may not be stipulated in the standard tenancy agreement, but in an individual supplementary agreement.

Success record for injunctions: Of 19 warnings, 10 were settled out of court by issuing the required cease-and-desist declaration, five resulted in court proceedings (in the event of non-response or objection), all five of which were upheld by the courts, two of which were also upheld at second instance. Three proceedings are still under review, one was discontinued by Pro Rauchfrei.

As an association registered in the Bundestag lobby register, Pro Rauchfrei has approached ministers, the Federal Government’s Drug Commissioner, members of the Bundestag and state parliaments on various occasions: in the federal state of Berlin with a new draft for the Berlin Non-Smoker Protection Act, at federal level with information on the ban on smoking in cars (including a list of legal bases that justify federal competence) and with a position paper on cannabis.

Now is not the time to sit back and relax. What else can and should be done in the future?
  • The EU is revising its legal framework for tobacco control and the recommendations for smoke-free places: We want to work to ensure that as much of this as possible is transposed into national law.
  • Disposable e-cigarettes are a huge and unnecessary environmental scourge and a danger to young people: There is an urgent need to take countermeasures here, e.g. by making them noticeably more expensive through a mandatory deposit or tax increase. Pro Rauchfrei will campaign for this.
  • Consumers should be encouraged to complain about violations of non-smoker protection: Compliance with laws cannot be constantly monitored across the board. However, social control only works if the harm caused by passive smoking or the destruction of the environment with cigarette butts is recognised as a problem
  • Smoking should not be made as convenient as possible, for example through (often unauthorised) catering tent extensions or with heaters in front of pubs. Instead, smoking should be de-normalised and only take place where no one is disturbed or harmed by it. Pro Rauchfrei will also continue to pursue this.
  • The association needs support, especially from lawyers. It is also possible to work as a trainee lawyer. Projects include the drafting of proposals for the revision of all non-smoker protection laws in the federal states and for the improvement of tobacco and non-smoker protection laws at federal level.
  • The processing of incoming complaints should also take place on a broader basis.
  • Pro Rauchfrei’s popular mail generator will soon be operational again, providing a direct line for non-smoker protection issues to the Bundestag, Bundesrat and state parliaments

We have plans and ideas but we need more active people to realise them all. We would therefore be delighted to have your support!