Strategic Communication and Public Relations

Smoke-free restaurants and bars in Germany 2013: Four out of five Germans support rigorous protection for non-smokers

No. 43 | 11/09/2013 | by MPL/Sel

Public support for a ban on smoking in the catering industry has reached a new record high. According to a survey carried out on behalf of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) in Heidelberg, almost 82 percent of participants say they are in favor of a smoking ban in restaurants and bars. In 2005 – before non-smoker protection laws were enforced – the approval rate was only 53 percent.


“This broad acceptance of non-smoker protection in the catering industry is mainly due to a change of attitude among smokers,” says Dr. Martina Pötschke-Langer, head of DKFZ’s Cancer Prevention Unit. “When non-smoker protection laws came into force in the German states in 2007, only 30 percent of smokers supported smoke-free catering establishments. By 2013, this percentage has increased to 59 percent, or almost doubled.”

For years now, the vast majority of non-smokers have supported a ban on smoking in the catering industry. The rate of non-smokers approving such a ban has remained unchanged at 93 percent. A constant majority of former smokers have also favored the ban; currently eighty-nine percent are in favor of it.

The most recent representative survey among 2,000 Germans over 16 years of age, which the Society for Consumer Research (Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung, GfK) carried out under a commission by the DKFZ, also includes the participants’ political party preferences. With German general elections to be held in the immediate future, this is of particular relevance: Supporters of a smoke-free catering industry form the majority of voters of all parties represented in the German Bundestag, The highest increase in acceptance is observed among followers of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). The approval rates among voters of the various parties are: Green Party (Die Grünen) – 88.5%; Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) – 83.5%; Social Democratic Party (SPD) – 83.1%; The Left (Die Linke) – 82.5%; Free Democratic Party (FDP) – 77.0%.

A handful of beverage establishment owners in North Rhine-Westphalia are currently mounting protests, in some cases somewhat aggressive, in an effort to get the state government to loosen non-smoker protection. “The survey results show that loud pro-smoking groups are in conflict with the interests of the vast majority of the population,” says Martina Pötschke-Langer. At the time of the survey in February 2013, the tobacco lobby was carrying out a massive campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia to oppose the introduction of the non-smoker protection act in Germany’s largest federal state. The campaign failed and has apparently made no impression on the majority of the population.

The study (in German) can be obtained from the Division of Cancer Prevention ( and is available for download at:

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. More than 1,300 scientists at the DKFZ investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and search for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They are developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to all questions on cancer.

Jointly with partners from the university hospitals, the DKFZ operates the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden, and the Hopp Children's Tumour Center KiTZ in Heidelberg. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of the six German Centers for Health Research, the DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partner locations. NCT and DKTK sites combine excellent university medicine with the high-profile research of the DKFZ. They contribute to the endeavor of transferring promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improving the chances of cancer patients.

The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


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