News of: Saturday, June 28 2008,
As the smoking ban in the Netherlands approaches, the authorities try to make the exact rules clear to the general public.
It was not entirely clear whether party tents (for example, tents used at outdoor pop concerts) were exempt from the smoking ban.
The Minister of Health said today they are not exempt.
Starting Tuesday, July 1, all tobacco smoking is prohibited in cafes, pubs, discos, hotels, restaurants, theaters, museums, cinemas, indoor shopping malls, congress centres, airports and sport venues.
These venues had been exempted so far from the general smoking ban on the workplace that has applied since a few years.
Coffeeshops (the famous euphemism for places where you can buy soft drugs) will also become smoke-free.
This seems contradictory to the message on a special map that was presented recently by the Amsterdam Centre authority, together with the local police and the Amsterdam Tourist Board.
The map will be handed out at tourist offices, hotels, etc.
The map, called 'Welcome to Amsterdam, but....' (downloadable as a PDF file, 3 MB), states that: 'Soft drugs such as cannabis and weed are not to be used in public places. Go to a coffeeshop'.
However, as of July 1, the soft drugs can also not be smoked in coffeeshops any more. There they will (or at least should) tell you that you have to smoke outside.
Smoking of softdrugs can be done inside, if not used with tobacco, because it is the smoking of tobacco that is prohibited. If you want to smoke cannabis with tobacco (as a joint or spliff) you must apparently do this at home, where it is still legal.
For ordinary tourists this will be problematic: they ordinarily stay in hotels, where smoking is also not allowed any more.
It seems the days for smoking a joint in Amsterdam are over for tourists.