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German man faces flat eviction for smoking

German man faces flat eviction for smoking

Friedhelm Adolfs smokes in front of the district court in Dusseldorf. Photo: 24 July 2013 Friedhelm Adolfs has lived in the flat for 40 years

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A court in Germany has ruled that a man who smokes in a rented flat can be evicted if the smoke gets into public areas of an apartment block.

The Dusseldorf court’s verdict followed a complaint from the landlady of the building where Friedhelm Adolfs lives.

She and other residents said that they could smell the smoke in the stairwell.

The 74-year-old heavy smoker had argued that his flat was not completely sealed and he could not help it if smoke seeped under the door to public areas.

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image of Stephen EvansStephen Evans BBC News, Berlin

Germany is more tolerant of smokers than seems to be the case in Britain and North America.

Smoking is banned in public places but special rooms are set aside in restaurants.

All the same, there is resistance to what protesters at a recent rally in Dusseldorf called “pervasive paternalism”.

They carried placards likening the smoking ban to the regulations made by the Nazis and Communists.

The smokers are particularly angry that in parts of Germany the ban has been toughened to prohibit smoking in tents at carnivals, for example.

At the demonstration, one mayor railed against what he called the “persecutory smoking law”.

In its ruling, the Dusseldorf district court said that other residents of the apartment block should not be expected to endure an “unacceptable and intolerable odour“.

It said, therefore, that Mr Adolfs – who has lived in the flat for 40 years – could be evicted, although he had a right of appeal.

At the same time, the verdict maintained that people had a basic right to smoke in their own homes.

Smoking is banned in public places in Germany, but special rooms are set aside in restaurants.

There had been public demonstrations by smokers against what they describe as draconian, totalitarian attitudes.

But Germany is also home to some smokers with a high public profile.

Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, 94, for example, insists on smoking through television interviews: in one appearance, he smoked 13 cigarettes on camera, the BBC’s Steve Evans in Berlin reports.

Mr Schmidt’s political colleague also said that he had stockpiled 38,000 menthol cigarettes at his home in anticipation of a ban by the European Union.

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