Germany's hotel and restaurant operators on Friday said they had asked the constitutional court to scrap new restrictions on smoking in restaurants.
"We have filed documents to the constitutional court in Karlsruhe challenging the smoking ban," their federation said in a statement.
AdvertisementIt said it considered a ban on smoking in restaurants, which is already in place in some of Germany's 16 states and about to become law in others, as a violation of the right of those in the hospitality industry to exercise their profession freely.
"Our suit is not meant as a challenge to the rights of non-smokers but as a bid to protect the rights of restaurant owners whose establishments consist of only one room and who will suffer economically as a result of this ban."
Germany has long been considered one of Europe's last havens for smokers, of whom the country has some 16.7 million in 2006.
But the country is gradually moving towards the new, stricter rules imposed in the majority of western European nations.
This year, a smoking ban was imposed on restaurants in the regional states of Lower Saxony, Hesse and Baden-Wuerttemberg that do not have separate smoking sections.
It will be extended to other states in 2008.
On January 1, the wealthy southern state of Bavaria will implement the toughest tobacco restrictions seen so far in the country.
The Bavarian law does not allow for smoking sections inside restaurants and in theory also rules out lighting up at the world-famous October beer festival in Munich.
But the premier of Bavaria, Guenther Beckstein, has promised that he would not send police round to the beer tents of the Oktoberfest next year to enforce the smoking ban.
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