Referendum in Bavaria 2010

The 2010 referendum in Bavaria is a success story for Pro Rauchfrei and all beneficiaries of a smoke-free hospitality industry

Initial attempt

Since its foundation at the end of 2004 Pro Rauchfrei has been calling for a nationwide and genuine non-smoking ban for restaurants and all publicly accessible establishments. Together with the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), it succeeded in convincing the experts at the Bavarian Ministry of Health in spring 2007. Even the Bavarian Hotel and Restaurant Association later joined this demand after a voluntary commitment to restrict smoking had failed.

In October 2007, the CSU decided to introduce uniform non-smoker protection for Bavarian restaurants – even for festival tents. Bavaria was the pioneer in this among all the federal states. Non-smokers were initially very pleased.

However, Beckstein and Huber collapsed under pressure from the tobacco lobby. The new Minister President Seehofer, together with his coalition partner FDP, softened the non-smoking law again in the fall of 2008 with far-reaching exemptions, despite opposition from within his own ranks.

The situation worsened again, and Pro Rauchfrei described the coalition of CSU and FDP as the “gravedigger of non-smoker protection”.

Second attempt, on a larger scale

Following pressure from Pro Rauchfrei in 2008, in 2009 an action alliance of parties and interest groups for genuine non-smoker protection in Bavaria was formed under the leadership of the ÖDP. The Pro Rauchfrei board and many members contributed to the success of the petition with signature collections, information stands, letters to political parties and professional and targeted public relations work.

The citizens of Bavaria enthusiastically registered for the referendum, the last step of the process.

On May 18, 2010, the time had come: together with the Non-Smoker Protection Bavaria campaign alliance, Pro Rauchfrei started the main phase for the referendum in Bavaria with a large poster campaign. The motto of the posters: “Yes to non-smoker protection – Bavaria breathes a sigh of relief.”

Up until the start of the referendum on July 4, 2010, Pro Rauchfrei and its alliance partners ran a variety of such campaigns. Among other things, comprehensive surveys commissioned by Pro Rauchfrei were able to debunk the hospitality sector’s claims that over 90% of Bavaria’s restaurants were already smoke-free.

Pro Rauchfrei and its fellow campaigners pushed through consistent non-smoker protection in Bavaria, despite the ruling parties’s positions.

With a clear result of almost 2/3 of the votes cast (61% YES), the Bavarian citizens took a final stand on how they wanted non-smoker protection to be regulated in the catering trade.

All in all, 23.00% of all eligible voters voted in favor of non-smoker protection, which compared to the 2008 state election numbers is an impressive result:

  • 25.13% – CSU 
  • 10.77% – SPD
  • 5.91% – Free Voters
  • 5.44% – Greens
  • 4.63% – FDP
  • 6.02% – Others

Continued protection for non-smokers

While we are proud of this tremendous success, we do not rest. Thanks in part to the activities of Pro Rauchfrei, Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia now also have credible non-smoker protection in restaurants. However, these are only 3 out of 16 federal states – elsewhere the relevant regulations are full of holes and dubious exceptions. Our work must therefore continue.

Unfortunately, existing legal requirements continue to be deliberately circumvented or unscrupulously violated. Our consumer protection department receives reports of violations and forwards them to the responsible authorities after checking them (you can find our complaint form under the menu item “We help”).

At the same time, Pro Rauchfrei will continue to counter the propaganda from the ranks of the tobacco lobby, which exploits restaurateurs’ fear of losing sales and wants to portray smoking, everywhere and regardless of others, as an inalienable right to freedom. This is particularly problematic when liberals such as the FDP set aside their own values and thus deprive the vast majority of the population of their right to enjoy smoke-free air.

In 2008, this party represented just 4.63% of the population, compared to 23.00% for non-smoker protection. Today, this difference would certainly be even greater.