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Smoking & Smoking laws in Germany

Smoking & Smoking laws in Germany

Smoking & Smoking laws in Germany

Wherever you are in the world, you will find there are strict rules that govern where people can smoke, what they can smoke and where they can buy and sell tobacco products.

Here's a rundown of everything you need to know about smoking in Germany, including statistics, information on the buying and selling of tobacco products, and a comprehensive rundown of the laws and regulations that govern smoking in the German federal states.

Smoking in Germany

Germany has a reputation for being a country that takes a relatively lax approach to smoking, but how true is that? 

Statistics of smokers

Since the 1980s, the number of people who smoke in Germany has been on a constant decline - although a slow one. In particular, the number of younger smokers, aged between 12 and 17, and between 18 and 25, has declined significantly over the past 20 years.

However, despite this, around 28 percent of the German population still smoke cigarettes or vape. And it's not just that a high proportion of the population are smokers - they also smoke a lot!  Germany is the 32nd smokiest country in the world, according to a survey by the Tobacco Atlas. The ranking estimates that the average smoker in Germany consumers around 1.599,5 cigarettes every year.

According to a 2017 microcensus by the Federal Health Monitoring information system (Gesundheitsberichterstattung des Bundes), 30,7 percent of people aged between 30 and 35 are smokers, the highest proportion of any age group. People aged 75 and older smoke the least, with only 5,4 percent of people in this age group smoking either occasionally, regularly or heavily.

Men smoke more than women in Germany, with it estimated that around 27 percent of men smoke, compared to only 20,8 percent of women. Studies have found that the average age people begin smoking is around 15. However, fewer people start smoking as they get older.

Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer in Germany, with four out of five lung cancer deaths attributed to smoking. Overall, around 127.000 people die every year in Germany as a result of tobacco consumption. This amounts to around 15 percent of all deaths every year.

Tobacco & Cigar shops in Germany

Cigarettes and rolling tobacco can be found pretty easily around Germany, and you can buy them at most supermarkets, gas stations and tobacco shops (Tabakladen), as well as at cigarette vending machines. Tobacco shops usually stock a variety of tobacco products, including cigars, hookahs and rolling equipment.

The sale of tobacco products is strictly prohibited to anyone under the age of 18. Any establishment selling cigarettes must clearly display the regulations and restrictions regarding the sale of cigarettes at all times and employees involved in the sale of tobacco products are legally required to check the age of customers if they are in doubt.

Similarly, cigarette vending machines require an ID (such as an ID card, not a driving licence) before they can be used. It is also against the law to sell any product containing less than 19 cigarettes or 30 grams of loose tobacco and as such, the tax strip on the packaging must be kept intact.

E-cigarettes and vaping equipment are also widely available across Germany. They can be found in most places that sell tobacco products, as well as in specialist vape shops. The sale of e-cigarettes and vaping equipment is also restricted to those aged 18 and above.

Tobacco prices in Germany

The average box of 20 cigarettes costs between 5 and 8 euros in Germany, with prices varying depending on the brand and the type of product. The price of tobacco products has risen steeply over the last two decades due to an increase in tobacco duties and taxation.

As of March 2019, the excise duty on a packet of 20 cigarettes was 3,19 euros, and with VAT added the total tax was 4,09 euros. Accordingly, the average packet of cigarettes cost 5,64 euros, 72,5 percent of which was made of up tax. A pack of 20 cigarettes in Germany therefore costs slightly more than the EU average of 4,89 euros. 

Tobacco packaging & Labelling

There are strict rules in place regarding the packaging and labelling of tobacco products in Germany, to warn people of the health risks associated with smoking and discourage first-time smokers.

Tobacco products must have two text warnings, one on the front and one on the back. The text on the front must be one of two warnings and must cover 30 percent of the packaging, whilst the one on the back will display one of 14  warnings and cover 40 percent of the packaging. Tobacco products also often feature pictures designed to deter people from smoking.

It is prohibited for packaging to bear misleading labels or advertisements such as “low-tar” or “light,” so as not to give the impression that the product is healthier or beneficial. The packaging must also provide information regarding tar and nicotine content.

German smoking laws

Germany has some strict rules when it comes to smoking. This is to protect both smokers and non-smokers and to make people aware of the risks associated with smoking. So, should you find yourself planning on visiting or moving to the federal republic, you should familiarise yourself with the country’s smoking laws.

Germany-wide smoking laws

Although there are some exceptions in some federal states, several smoking laws apply nationwide in Germany:

The Protection of Young Persons Act

The Protection of Young Persons Act (Jugendschutzgesetz) is a 2007 federal law aimed at protecting children. The law sets out regulations regarding how long minors can stay at bars, restaurants, clubs and other public spaces, as well as age restrictions on alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, games and other potentially harmful media.

The Protection of Young Persons Act has been amended multiple times, leading to adjustments in certain regulations (such as increasing the legal age for buying and consuming tobacco and vaping products). It also governs where cigarette vending machines can be located and whether they need an identification system.

Smoking age in Germany

When the Non-Smokers Protection Act came into force, the minimum age at which someone could buy tobacco products was raised from 16 to 18. Anyone below the age of 18 is not legally allowed to purchase tobacco or vaping products; neither are they allowed to smoke cigarettes in public, even if accompanied by a parent.

Smoking ban in Germany & Smoke-free places

When the Federal Non-Smokers Protection Act was implemented, smoking in federal institutions and government buildings was strictly prohibited, as well as on public transport, including taxis and aeroplanes, and at public transport stations (except in designated smoking rooms).

Smoking inside private offices and public areas, buildings and institutions (such as schools, hospitals and airports) is generally prohibited, although there are exceptions, with rules varying from state to state. The Ordinance on Workplaces, which was passed in 2004, set minimum health and safety requirements for workplaces in Germany, which included regulations regarding smoking inside the workplace.

Smoking-related fines can range from 5 to 1.500 euros.

Smoking laws by federal state

While Germany’s 16 federal states must comply with the Federal Non-Smokers Protection Act and the Ordinance on Workplaces, they are allowed to govern their own regulations regarding smoking to a certain extent. Consequentially, there are several exceptions where smoking is permitted in certain public areas, under certain conditions, in certain states.

As of 2017, only three states in Germany had implemented complete smoking bans in restaurants and bars: North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Saarland. North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, in particular, are known for their stringent smoking laws.

In all 16 states, smoking is absolutely prohibited on public transportation, in accordance with the Federal Non-Smokers Protection Act. Smoking is also completely prohibited at childcare centres in all 16 states, apart from Rhineland-Palatinate, where exceptions can be made for individual cases.

Smoking in Baden-Württemberg

These exceptions to the smoking laws apply in Baden-Württemberg:

Government or official buildings

  • Exceptions can be made for special events and enclosed rooms may be used for smoking.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Exceptions are made for those in palliative care or are receiving certain treatments (such as for addiction).
  • Smoking is only permitted in an enclosed space that is only inhabited by other smokers or with permission from other residents.

Educational institutions

  • Adult students and teachers may be allowed to smoke in designated smoking areas following discussions with parents and the school council.

Cultural institutions

  • No restrictions apply, although smoking is prohibited anywhere where fresh food or drink is sold for immediate consumption.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • People may smoke in nightclubs, restaurants and bars in a designated smoking area, which has to be completely separated from public areas.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars smaller than 75 square metres.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars that only serve customers in one room (Einraumgaststätten).
  • Smoking only permitted in establishments that either doesn't sell food or only sell “cold food.”

Smoking in Bavaria

In Bavaria, smoking may be permitted in police departments, or anywhere interrogations (such as a public prosecutor’s office) take place, as long as permission has been granted by the head of the police station or institution.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Patients in palliative or psychiatric care may smoke in enclosed side rooms.

Cultural institutions

  • Smoking is permitted as long as it is part of an artistic performance.

Smoking in Berlin

These exceptions apply in Berlin:

Government or official buildings

  • Smoking may be allowed in designated rooms or waiting areas, as well as in interrogation rooms at police stations.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Permission can be granted by the head physician at certain medical facilities, such as psychiatric hospitals or rehabilitation centres, as well as to those in palliative care.

Cultural institutions

  • Smoking is permitted as long as it is part of an artistic performance.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • People may smoke in nightclubs, restaurants and bars in a designated smoking area, which has to be completely separated from public areas.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars smaller than 75 square metres.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars that only serve customers in one room (Einraumgaststätten).
  • Smoking only permitted in establishments that either doesn't sell food or only sell “cold food.”
  • People may smoke in Hookah bars as long as no one under the age of 18 is allowed on site.
  • Private clubs (Vereinsgaststätten) may allow their patrons to smoke, as long as no under-18-year-olds are permitted on the premises.

Smoking in Brandenburg

In Brandenburg, the following exceptions are made:

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Smoking can be permitted in specially designated areas and private rooms. Physicians may allow patients, especially those in psychiatric or palliative care, to smoke.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • People may smoke in nightclubs, restaurants and bars in a designated smoking area, which has to be completely separated from public areas.
  • Smoking is permitted in one-room bars smaller than 75 square metres.
  • Smoking only permitted in establishments that either doesn’t sell food or only sell “cold food.”

Smoking in Bremen

These smoking laws apply in Bremen:

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Smoking is allowed in the rooms of patients who are undergoing psychiatric or palliative care. Patients are also permitted to smoke if they are assigned to a closed ward of the hospital by a court-ordered placement.
  • Exceptions can be made for single patients receiving therapy.
  • Individual cases are decided on by the attending physician.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • People may smoke in restaurants and bars in a designated smoking area, which has to be completely separated from public areas. Smoking rooms in nightclubs must also be separated from any dance area.
  • Smoking is permitted in one-room bars smaller than 75 square metres.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars that only serve customers in one room (Einraumgaststätten).
  • Smoking only permitted in establishments that either doesn't sell food or only sell “cold food.”

Smoking in Hamburg

Hamburg makes these exceptions:

Government or official buildings

  • Exceptions can be made at the discretion of department chiefs for police custody rooms.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Patients can smoke for therapeutic reasons.

Restaurants and bars

  • People may smoke in restaurants and bars in a designated smoking area, which has to be completely separated from public areas.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars smaller than 75 square metres that do not prepare or serve food for consumption.

Smoking in Hesse

Hesse makes a few exceptions to the smoking laws:

Government or official buildings

  • People can smoke in separated smoking rooms, as well as in holding cells in police departments. However, prior permission must be obtained by the chief of the department.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Smoking is allowed if it is part of a patient’s treatment, and for patients in private rooms.

Restaurants and bars

  • People may smoke in nightclubs, restaurants and bars in a designated smoking area, which has to be completely separated from public areas.
  • Smoking is permitted in one-room bars smaller than 75 square metres.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars that only serve customers in one room (Einraumgaststätten).
  • Smoking only permitted in establishments that either doesn't sell food or only sell “cold food.”
  • Exceptions can be made for private events with a guest list.
  • Smoking is allowed in party tents, as long as they are temporary. Party tents are only permitted in the same location for a maximum of 21 days.
  • The smoking ban in casinos was lifted in 2012.

Smoking in Lower Saxony

Here's how the smoking laws stand in Lower Saxony:

Government or official buildings

  • Smoking is permitted in designated smoking rooms and any rooms smaller than 75 square metres, as long as there is only one room that offers some kind of service to customers.
  • No smoking is allowed anywhere food is cooked and prepared.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Patients can smoke in hospitals if they are sent there by a court order.
  • Patients in palliative care can smoke in private rooms.
  • Patients can smoke if it is part of therapy or treatment, and permission is granted by the head physician.
  • Patients who are not allowed to leave may smoke on site.

Educational institutions

  • Students may smoke in higher educational institutions like colleges and universities, but only in designated smoking areas.
  • No smoking is allowed anywhere food is cooked and prepared.

Cultural institutions

  • Smoking is permitted in designated smoking rooms.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • People may smoke in restaurants and bars in a designated smoking area, which has to be completely separated from public areas. Smoking rooms in nightclubs must also be separated from any dance area.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars smaller than 75 square metres.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars that only serve customers in one room (Einraumgaststätten).
  • Smoking only permitted in establishments that either doesn't sell food or only sell “cold food.”

Smoking Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Smoking in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is completely prohibited in public places, with the following exceptions:

Government or official buildings

  • Smoking is permitted in designated smoking rooms and any rooms smaller than 75 square metres, as long as there is only one room that offers some kind of service to customers.
  • No smoking is allowed anywhere food is cooked and prepared.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Patients in private rooms are allowed to smoke, as long as they obtain permission from a physician or, in nursing homes, the other residents.

Educational institutions

  • Students may smoke in higher educational institutions like colleges and universities, but only in designated smoking areas.
  • No smoking is allowed anywhere food is cooked and prepared.

Public health facilities

  • Smoking is accepted in designated smoking areas.

Cultural institutions

  • Smoking is accepted in designated smoking areas.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • People may smoke in nightclubs, restaurants and bars in a designated smoking area, which has to be completely separated from public areas.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars smaller than 75 square metres.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars that only serve customers in one room (Einraumgaststätten).
  • Smoking only permitted in establishments that either doesn't sell food or only sell “cold food.”

Smoking in North Rhine-Westphalia

In North Rhine-Westphalia, smoking is strictly forbidden in most public places. The only exceptions are for those in medical facilities:

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Smoking rooms are permitted for inpatients, as well as in institutes for disabled people.
  • Exceptions are made for people in palliative or psychiatric care.
  • Individual exceptions can also be made for people in therapy.

Smoking in Rhineland-Palatinate

Rhineland-Palatinate is the only state which allows exceptions to the smoking ban in childcare centres and other public youth services. Other exceptions include: 

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Smoking is generally allowed for patients in private care.
  • Further exceptions can be made for people undergoing psychiatric or palliative treatment.
  • Patients may be allowed to smoke if they are forced to quarantine inside a hospital.
  • Residents in care homes and inpatient services can only smoke if a designated area has been provided by the establishment.

Cultural institutions

  • Smoking is permitted as part of an artistic performance.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • Certain establishments may allow smoking on the premises, as long as there is only one dining area that is smaller than 75 square metres and no food is prepared or served onsite.
  • Usually, smoking is only permitted in designated rooms that are separated from the bar area or dancefloor.
  • Smoking may be permitted in temporary party tents.

Smoking in Saarland

Smoking in Saarland is completely prohibited in public spaces, except in the following circumstances: 

Government or official buildings

  • Smoking is permitted in designated smoker areas that are clearly marked.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • In care homes and palliative care facilities, smoking is permitted in separate, designated smoking areas.

Smoking in Saxony

In Saxony, the following exceptions are made to the smoking ban:

Government or official building

  • Smoking may be permitted in police departments, or anywhere interrogations (such as a public prosecutor’s office) take place, as long as permission has been granted by the head of the police station or institution.
  • Smoking may also be permitted in designated areas in courts.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Patients may be allowed to smoke in medical institutions to avoid risks to therapeutic goals or if they are not allowed to leave the building.
  • Patients in palliative care are permitted to smoke.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • People may smoke in restaurants and bars in a designated smoking area, which has to be completely separated from public areas. Smoking rooms in nightclubs must also be separated from any dance area.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars and gambling premises smaller than 75 square metres.
  • Smoking is permitted in bars and casinos that only serve customers in one room (Einraumgaststätten).
  • Smoking may be permitted at an establishment if it has been rented for a private event.

Smoking in Saxony-Anhalt

Saxony-Anhalt makes the following exceptions:

Government or official buildings

  • Smoking can be permitted in private smoking rooms.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Smoking is permitted in private dormitories and apartments.

Educational institutions 

  • Smoking rooms are permitted in higher educational facilities.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • Certain establishments may allow smoking on the premises, as long as there is only one dining area that is smaller than 75 square metres and no food is prepared or served onsite.
  • Smoking must not be allowed if minors are allowed on site.

Smoking in Schleswig-Holstein

In Schleswig-Holstein, smoking is completely prohibited in public spaces, except in the following situations:

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • As well as in private rooms, smokers may be granted permission to smoke in medical institutions and care homes.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • Clubs, bars and restaurants may allow smoking in separate smoking areas or event rooms.
  • Certain establishments may allow smoking on the premises, as long as there is only one dining area that is smaller than 75 square metres and no food is prepared or served onsite.

Smoking in Thuringia

Finally, in Thuringia, smoking is only permitted in the following circumstances: 

Government or official buildings

  • Smoking rooms are permitted as long as they are completely separate from public areas.

Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Smoking is allowed in private rooms, although management must give their consent to do so first.

Nightclubs, restaurants and bars

  • Smoking is permitted in bars smaller than 75 square metres
  • Smoking is permitted in bars that only serve customers in one room (Einraumgaststätten).
  • Smoking only permitted in establishments that either doesn't sell food or only sell “cold food.”
  • The smoking ban does not apply to gambling premises.

Tobacco advertising in Germany

In Germany, tobacco advertisements are banned on TV, radio and in most print publications, such as newspapers and magazines. However, advertising on other types of print media, such as through flyers, posters and billboards are still allowed. Exceptions are also made for tobacco trade publications. Tobacco companies are prohibited from paying for tobacco products to be displayed on TV, film and other media.

Other forms of advertising, such as conventional mail, point of sale advertising and product display are, on the other hand, allowed. Tobacco promotion through discounts, brand stretching, incentive schemes and prizes are not included in German law and are therefore legal.

In the summer of 2020, it was decided that advertising for tobacco and smoking products would be completely phased out in Germany. Tobacco companies will no longer be able to advertise their products in public and advertising around younger people will be restricted. The new law will make it so tobacco advertising can only be displayed, almost exclusively, in tobacco shops.

William Nehra

Author

William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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