[JURIST] Germany's Federal Constitutional Court [official website, in German] on Tuesday upheld [ruling, in German; press release, in German] a state ban on smoking in public restaurants and bars in Bavaria. The Bavarian ban is the strictest in the nation, where public smoking is regulated on a state-by-state basis. Last month, the Constitutional Court ruled [text, in German; JURIST report] that several other state anti-smoking laws allowing bars to designate a separate room for smokers unconstitutionally discriminated against one-room establishments. The court held that that all publicly-accessible businesses must be treated equally before the law, so either smoking must be banned in bars entirely or the laws must be rewritten to create exemptions for smaller businesses. The Bavarian law was held to be constitutional because it does not include an exception for separate smoking rooms. AP has more.
In 2006, the federal government of Germany rejected a proposed nationwide ban on smoking in restaurants out of concern that it would intrude on police powers guaranteed to the states in the wake of federalism reforms which had been approved [JURIST reports] that summer. Under the new constitutional reforms, Germany's 16 states have the power to regulate restaurants and businesses. Elsewhere in Europe, legislatures of England and France [JURIST reports] have approved nationwide smoking bans in public places. In the US, voters in three states approved state-wide smoking bans [JURIST report] in the 2006 November elections, while Rhode Island amended its smoking ban after a state judge struck down [JURIST report] several provisions of the law as irrational and therefore unconstitutional in 2005.