At the end of January, the Dutch state-owned railway company Nederlandse Spoorwegen revealed that, starting on the first of April 2020, their stores will stop selling tobacco at Dutch train stations. In the same vein, Prorail, the main passenger railway operator of the Netherlands, announced they will gradually remove all the currently designated smoking spots on platforms.
Herewith, the two companies are clearly voicing their support for the Nationaal Preventieakkoord (National Prevention Agreement) of 2018 signed by the Dutch government as well as by more than seventy individual organisations in the Netherlanders. The agreement is focused on strongly decreasing the amount of smokers, obesity, and the problematic use of alcohol. Concerning the first component, the goal is to eventually have a smoking free generation by 2040. Several measures have been and will be taken in 2020 and the next coming years. To meet this goal, on the first of April, the excise tax on tobacco will be raised, meaning that a standard sized package will be one euro more expensive, bringing the price of a standard sized pack from 6,90 to 7,90 euros. The Netherlands now has the sixth highest price of cigarettes in Europe, just behind several Scandinavian countries and the British Isles. Regarding the amount of anti-smoking measurements, the Netherlanders places itself, quite literally, in between Germany, which holds a less tight attitude, albeit to varying extents due to the federal system, and the United Kingdom, which maintains even more ambitious goals than the Netherlands. Hopefully, this will not mean that even more British stag weekends will be spend in Amsterdam. Furthermore, as has been observable since the first of January of 2020, tobacco products are not visible at selling points such as supermarkets anymore (you may have noticed the new white cupboards at the Albert Heijn where you can collect your cigarettes and voetbalplaatjes).
‘remember the days when you could easily light one up in an airplane and enjoy one with your meal in a restaurant (banned 1997 & 2008 respectively).’
These anti-smoking encouragements have been nothing new.I bet your parents can still remember the days when you could easily light one up in an airplane and enjoy one with your meal in a restaurant (banned 1997 & 2008 respectively).
Such days though are far behind us and anti-smoking measures have become a modern fixture. The last few years especially have seen a drastic increase in such measures, notably inspired by the organisation Clean Air Nederland which successfully sued the Dutch government in 2016 with the aim of removing smoking areas in the hotel and catering industry. In 2019, the Dutch supreme court decided in the favour of the organisation, meaning that from the first of April, all the designated smoking areas in bars, clubs, and pubs must be removed.
The constant implementation of new anti-smoking measures has led to a debate – inside my peculiar brain – between securing public health and freedom. On the one hand, it is undoubtedly important that the government takes care of its citizens, attempting to prevent them from illnesses.
The argument that “the people surrounding the smoker almost acquire the same effects created by the tobacco in the near air as the smoker itself,” is frequently heard. The consequences of ‘passive smoking’ or ‘second-hand smoking’ are well-established.