One café in 10 broke the smoking ban in 2016

The number of cafés that broke the smoking has dropped constantly since the law came in in 2011.

Last year, 13% of establishments broke the rules, according to figures Health Minister Maggie De Block (Open VLD) gave the Sudpresse papers on Saturday.

There were 318 complaints last year, compared to 467 in 2015 and 1,327 in 2012.

Most of the 2016 complaints were submitted in Flanders (264 Dutch-language complaints, compared to 54 French-language).

“All the complaints are followed up and an inspection is organised”, the Minister explained. There were 197 inspections in 2016 (384 in 2015) with 59 establishments found to be breaking the law (30% of cases in both 2016 and 2015).

That means an average of 13% of Belgian establishments broke the ban, 22% at night and 10% during the day. But the figures vary between regions (23% in Brussels, 8% in Wallonia and 14% in Flanders).

The fine, if it is not a repeat offence, can be up to 208 euros each for the smoker and the owner. If several people are found smoking in the café, the fine for the owner increases accordingly, to a maximum of 8,000 euros.

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