Germany is to ban smoking in public buildings and most restaurants, after a compromise was reached Friday between the country's two ruling parties.
German smokers will be left out in the cold
The ban, to be voted on in parliament some time next year, does not affect bars and pubs, while restaurants can still provide separate, enclosed smoking rooms.
Smoking in smoking in theatres, cinemas, hospitals and schools will be banned in a drive to toughen some of the most lax smoking rules in western Europe. It will also be banned in all forms of public transport.
The compromise agreement between the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) was met with hope and criticism from anti-smoking and opposition groups as going both too far and not far enough.
An enormous step for the protection of non-smokers
Health Minister Ulla Schmidt called the compromise a step in the right direction. "This is an enormous advance for the protection of non-smokers and for health protection in Germany," she said, adding that she hoped the coalition parties' broader parliamentary groups would accept the deal.
Germans have long defended their right to smoke
Nearly a third of all German adults smoke regularly and close to 140,000 die every year from tobacco-related illnesses -- far more than from traffic accidents, alcohol, drugs and AIDS combined.
Germans have fiercely defended their right to smoke in a country where the anti-smoking lobby has been tainted by the legacy of Nazi hostility to smoking and where lighting up became a cherished mark of tolerance after World War Two.
Many other European countries have already passed bans on smoking in public buildings. France and England recently passed laws - yet to come into effect -- banning smoking in bars and pubs as well, while a similar full ban in Italy is already in force.