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June 15th, 2013:

Geneva gets tough with smoking ban scofflaws

The canton of Geneva is cracking down on nightclubs and restaurants flouting a ban on smoking by increasing fines 60-fold and threatening to shut down uncooperative establishments

The cantonal government this week approved raising the maximum financial penalty to 60,000 francs (HK$ 504,960) , up from the previous maximum of 1,000 francs.

“We realize that certain establishments don’t care at all about the law banning smoking,” said Pierre-François Unger, Geneva health minister, in defending the new get-tough policy, the Tribune de Genève reported.

A handful of nightclubs, in particular, have openly violated the smoking ban with employees lighting up as well as customers.

The Java Club, a popular hangout for young people in the Hotel Kempinski, became the focus of controversy earlier this year over reports that it habitually allowed patrons to smoke.

The canton introduced a law in July 1, 2008 banning smoking in enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants.

The law followed an initiative supported by 80 percent of Geneva voters.

But some restaurant and nightclub operators have been reluctant to accept the regulations.