In July 2006 Consumer Affairs Minister Horst Seehofer said that a ban on smoking in public places would likely come into force during 2007 and it would be added to the agenda after the summer break. Seehofer also said that he was unhappy with the progress being made in creating smoke-free areas. However the proposal for a nationwide ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and schools was hindered in December 2006 when government legal experts discovered that this may be unconstitutional. Chancellor Angela Merkel was reported to be going to persuade regional leaders to introduce smokefree measures.
The federal government and the 16 state governments met in February 2007 and reportedly agreed in principle to prohibit smoking in indoor public places such as discos, theatres, cinemas, museums, hospitals and schools. On 22nd March 2007 the Federal states agreed to provide exemptions for premises with separate smoking rooms and for small bars. The 16 state parliaments now need to approve this measure before it can be implemented.
The federal government agreed to end smoking in government buildings, on public transport and at public transport stations in February 2007.
On 1 August 2007 in Lower Saxony and Baden-Wurttemberg smoking was banned in local authority buildings, schools, hospitals, bars and restaurants, although in Lower Saxony compliance checks will only start in November. Meckleburg-Western Pomerania banned smoking in schools, hospitals and local government buildings on the same day.
The German Government and the country’s Hotel and Catering Association had previously agreed to expand the space set aside for non-smokers in almost all restaurants and cafes on March 2, 2005. Under the agreement, 90 per cent of all restaurants, cafes and cafeterias with an area of at least 75 square meters, or with at least 40 seats, will need to make half their space non-smoking, by March 1, 2008. This agreement is to be phased in, and 30 per cent of restaurants and cafes will be expected to have set aside 30 per cent of space for non-smokers by March 1, 2006. By March 1, 2007, 60 per cent of businesses will have to make 40 per cent of their seats non-smoking, before the agreement is implemented in full in 2008. The agreement won’t apply to businesses that only sell snack food (i.e. chips, meatballs or sandwiches), or to those that have no tables and chairs. It was thought that if this agreement was fully implemented, the hotel and catering industry would avoid legislation sought by lawmakers in the upper house of parliament.