Ban on smoking areas problem for some fraternities

In February, the Dutch court banned smoking areas in cafés. What does this mean for the fraternities? Will the smoking areas on campus disappear as well? Scroll directly to the end of the article to find out where to find smoking areas on campus.

In the 60's, everyone smoked everywhere. Even in practicum metallurgy at architecture. (Photos: Paul C. Pet, 'Kijk... de TH')


The rules

All employees have the right to work in a smoke-free environment, so it’s forbidden to smoke at your work place, whether it is an office, a restaurant or a café. This has meant that smoking in cafés has been prohibited since 2008. Smoking is still permitted in specially designated smoking areas. But not for long.

No smoking areas anymore?

Last February, the organisation Clean Air Nederland (CAN) brought the state to court to ban smoking areas in cafés. They won on the grounds that smoking areas are not in line with the rules of the World Health Organisation to combat tobacco. The areas are not good for the health of the employees that have to clean the places. They are not good for café visitors because some smoke always escapes from the areas. And lastly, they lead to social pressure: non-smokers can feel pressured to join the smokers in the smoking area.

Thousands of euros gone up in smoke

Panic among café owners ensued. Some have invested thousands of euros in the smoking areas. Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN), the organisation that represents the catering industry in the Netherlands, sent an open letter to Secretary of State Blokhuis of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, in which they ask the Secretary of State to go to the Supreme Court.

The KHN expects a response to the letter this week. The Dutch Food Safety Authority (NVWA) will not enforce the new rule until the Ministry takes a decision.

In 1966, smoking was normal at Jansburg.
‘No clue what to do’ for some fraternities

As well as in cafés, some student fraternities, such as Jansbrug, permit smoking in smoking areas. “We will keep our smoking area open until there is a final decision on this subject,” says Sjoerd Jansma, who is on the board of the fraternity. “We have no clue what we will do if smoking areas are banned. Smoking outside is not an option because it may disturb the neighbourhood.”

At Outsite, they have the same argument. “We haven’t discussed it yet,” says Michel Fleur, the chairman. “We don’t have an outside area like a garden, and smoking on the street is not an option. It would be great if we could teleport people for ten minutes and bring them back when they finish their cigarette.”

The butler of DSC brings the drinks while the students smoke their pipe, cigarette or cigar.

For some fraternities, the lawsuit was just in time. Just in time? “We will renovate our discotheque, Lorre, this summer,” says Bjorg Nielsen of the board of DSC. “In our initial plans, we still had a smoking area. We have now had to revise our plans which has cost a lot of money. Still, we could have lost way more as w’d have had to change the design after signing the contract with the builders.”

Another fraternity that is improving its club is DSB. “We don’t have a smoking area right now. Smokers smoke in the garden, to the annoyance of our neighbours. We were planning to build a smoking area inside in summer. Now with this decision, we will not do this anymore.”  

Not all fraternities have issues with the court’s decision. For example, at the Bolk and the Koornbeurs, the smokers have never had a smoking area and are already smoking outside. And at the rowing fraternities, people just don’t smoke. “We have a few spots where you can smoke, but they are barely used,” says Stijn van Vuuren from Laga. At Proteus, the ‘two smokers a month’ smoke outside.

There are some nice smoking areas on campus. Because they are not part of the catering industry, they will not disappear. Have we forgotten your favourite or most hated spot? Let us know!