A Dutch court fined the owners of a small Dutch bar 1,200 euros Friday in the country's first-ever court case for flouting a smoking ban imposed on the hospitality industry.
Brothers Gerhard and Ronald Sannes, owners of Cafe de Kachel in Groningen in the north of the country, admitted contravening the oft-flouted law when they appeared before a district court in the same city earlier in the month.
Court spokesman Maurice van Dyk said Friday that on top of the fine, the owners were also sentenced to a one-year probation period, during which time the bar will be closed for a month for any further contravention.
Prosecutors said the bar had been caught contravening the smoking ban, introduced in July 2008, on six occasions.
Gerhard Sannes told AFP recently that Cafe de Kachel took the ashtrays off its tables for six weeks in July and August and saw turnover plummet by 60 percent.
There has been growing resistance to the ban as small bar and restaurant owners complain they are bleeding clients and revenue.
A grouping of some 1,200 small hospitality industry operators opposed to the effects of the ban have created a communal money pot from which to pay fines.
Tougher penalties were introduced in October, with inspectors given the power to issue on-the-spot fines of 300 euros for a first offence, followed by 600 euros for the second.
The Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority said in a statement this month that about 2,500 of the country's 11,000 bars were flouting the smoking ban.
Less than a quarter of the Dutch population of 16.4 million are smokers.