Since a smoking ban was introduced in the Netherlands on July 1, a real rebellion in the pub sector has emerged. It’s organised and powered by emotion and the sincere fear of losing business. Over 1,000 pub owners (out of 10,000) have joined their interests under the umbrella of "Stichting Red de Kleine Horeca-ondernemer (KHO)" (save the small pub owner) and have set up a smart legal escape to defeat the fines of €300 to €2,400 that are waiting for them when they flout the ban. The number of pub owners joining KHO is growing every day. At least 60% of pub owners allow smoking in their premises now. A lawsuit against the smoking ban is being prepared and will enable the connected bar owners to postpone and, when the lawsuit is won, destroy the fines for violating the smoking ban law. The lawsuit will both challenge the prediction made by the anti-smoking movement that smoking bans cause no economic damage as well as the health gains that are said (by the lobby) to be achieved from banning smoking.

Aside from the legal action, a demonstration against the smoking ban is planned for November 29. Bar owners and their clients will travel to The Hague in buses on that day where several bands, that have produced anti smoking ban songs, will play their songs. Additionally, politicians are invited to present their view on the smoking ban to the public. And there will be free beer available, sponsored by some breweries.

The Dutch government, in it’s arrogance, never expected an organised opposition when they set up this anti-smoking law. But the Dutch obviously don’t want this law and therefore show their famous civil disobedience. And in city after city, bar owners gather and decide to put the ashtrays on the tables again. The middle finger is raised by increasingly more bars every day.



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