Germany needs a comprehensive smoking ban

The Consitutional Court ruling on smoking in bars and restaurants shows Germany needs a comprehensive ban to ensure public health, argues Marlies Volkmer, member of parliament for the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Germany needs a comprehensive smoking ban
Photo: DPA

The Federal Constitutional Court has not made it clear that the smoking ban in bars and restaurants is unconstitutional, but instead that the exceptions the state legislators have allowed are unlawful.

The Constitutional Court has given legislators plenty of decision-making discretion, including the opportunity for a total smoking ban in Germany’s gastronomic establishments. That’s because a basic right to good health for non-smokers certainly has a higher priority than the right to carry out one’s profession and a smoker’s right to do as they please.

The ban’s exceptions have led to distortions in competition between pubs and bars. The temporary rules set out by the judges in Karlsruhe might possibly reduce such issues, but they do not free state legislators from making their own decisions.

The state parliaments are now called upon to use their discretion in order to impose a general smoking ban. Only a consistent approach will truly serve health protection measures and would be completely clear for both pub owners and guests. We must get rid of Germany’s patchwork of different rules regarding smoking.

Marlies Volkmer is the SPD spokeswoman for the German parliament’s committee for Nutrition, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. Translation by The Local.


French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

French authorities on Wednesday slapped a €90,000-per-day fine on e-commerce giant Amazon until it removes abusive clauses in its contracts with businesses using its platform to sell their goods.

French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

The anti-fraud Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF) service said the online sales giant’s contracts with third-party sellers who use its website contain “unbalanced” clauses.

“The company Amazon Services Europe did not comply completely with an injunction it was served and it is now subject to a fine of €90,000 per day of delay” in applying the changes, the DGCCRF said in a statement.

It also urged the platform to conform with European rules on equity and transparency for firms using online platforms.

Amazon said the order would harm consumers.

“The changes imposed by the DGCCRF will stop us from effectively protecting consumers and permit bad actors to set excessive prices or spam our clients with commercial offers,” the e-commerce giant said in a statement.

“We will comply with the DGCCRF’s decision but we absolutely do not understand it and we are challenging it in court,” responded the e-commerce giant in a statement.

Amazon said the clauses that the DGCCRF has ordered removed had, for example “prevented the appearance of exorbitant prices for mask and hydroalcoholic gel during the pandemic”.

In 2019, Amazon was fined €4 million for “manifestly unbalanced” contract clauses with third-party sellers on its site in a case brought by the DGCCRF.