Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner and Health Minister Sabine Oberhauser presented the draft for implementing comprehensive non-smoker protection as part of an amendment to the Tobacco Act. The legal regulations are sent immediately into expert opinion and are to be decided still before the summer break in the national council.
According to the amendment, all previous special regulations will cease to apply from May 2018, and all catering establishments must guarantee freedom from smoking. Oberhauser and Mitterlehner have agreed on the following. The smoking ban is also to apply in rooms for the production, processing, administration or consumption of food or beverages.
In addition the Obfrau of the federal section tourism and leisure economy in the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKo), Petra Nocker-Schwarzenbacher: " It was an occasion-related decision of the policy to change the currently valid legal situation. In this context, we, as representatives of the industry, have called in particular for the legal protection and protection of confidence for those catering establishments that have invested in room partitions and the protection of non-smokers on the basis of the Tobacco Act of 2009 and its confirmation in the National Council in 2014."
"Non-smoker protection premium" for voluntary changeover by 2016
Establishments that have already voluntarily banned smoking by 1. July 2016 to smoke-free, can receive as a special incentive a "non-smoker protection premium" in the amount of ten percent of the remaining book value. The basis for assessment are those expenditures that have been made for the establishment of non-smoker protection since 2009 but have not yet been taken into account for tax purposes. In addition, there is still the possibility of early amortization. "The compensation model is still to be examined in detail," says Division Chairwoman Nocker-Schwarzenbacher.
The application of the Tobacco Act is extended to event halls, tent festivals and club events, including in club premises. Here will apply from entry into force of the new law absolute prohibition of smoking. A separate regulation for hotels stipulates that they can set up a smoking room for their guests – but without service of food and drinks, which may also not be taken away.
Transition period until 1. May 2018
"The newly regulated smoking ban is a historic contribution to increasing the health of people in Austria. Austria has thus joined Europe in the protection of non-smokers. And we have fulfilled our special responsibility towards children, young people, the chronically ill and, last but not least, the staff in the catering trade," says Health Minister Sabine Oberhauser. The general ban on smoking in restaurants will further extend non-smoker protection and comprehensively improve worker protection in the catering industry.
"We have reached a good and practical compromise that is in line with the European trend," emphasizes Economics Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner. "In this way, we are strengthening the protection of non-smokers in Austria, but also taking into account the concerns of those establishments that have already invested in spatial separation of smokers and non-smokers. Therefore there are temporal transition periods, a new fiscal premium as well as early depreciation possibilities for past nonsmoker protection investments. This ensures protection of trust and legal certainty," emphasizes Mitterlehner.
Smoking in the Schanigarten remains permitted
Smoking in restaurants and pubs remains generally permitted, which is made clear in the explanations to the draft law. Until the entry into force, an almost three-year transition period until 1. May 2018 apply: "This at least gives the affected establishments some time to adjust to the new situation. With the reference to the small Gastro enterprises under 50 square meters, which had so far the freedom of choice, the permission of Schanigarten before restaurants or the so-called ‘Heizschwammerln’ may not become then also in the colder season the official chicane , so Nocker Schwarzenbacher.