Austria's parliament on Wednesday approved a law that will further limit smoking in bars and restaurants.
The new law, which will take effect on 1 January 2009, will force all establishments of 80 square metres or more to build separate smoking-rooms if they choose to serve smokers. Health minister Andrea Kdolsky argued it was a way to get people to quit smoking.
Restaurants and cafes of 50 square metres or less will be allowed to decide whether or not to allow smoking. The change will now also require smoking areas to bear signs warning of the risks of lighting up. The authorities will decide if smoking spaces are feasible in any establishments that fall between the two categories (between 50 and 80 square metres).
Restaurant and cafe owners could face fines of up to EUR 10,000 (USD 15,740 ) for failing to comply with the new legislation, while patrons may have to pay up to EUR 1,000.
Under a law that came into force in January, any place of 75 square metres or more had to provide a no-smoking area. But the measure was rarely enforced and often consisted of just a few tables in the middle of a room, with no-smoking signs.
Austria is one of the last countries in Europe that still allows smoking in public places. (pi)