The Dutch government has dropped spot checks on smoking in small cafes after bar owners won two legal victories in their fight against a ban on their premises, the health minister said Wednesday.
Ab Klink said in a letter to members of parliament that action taken to fine offenders had also been suspended temporarily.
Appeal courts at Leeuwarden in the north and Den Bosch in the south have found in favour of landlords of cafes, restaurants and hotels without staff, who said the law did not oblige them to implement a smoking ban.
The ban on smoking in the hotel, restaurant and catering industry was introduced a year ago with the aim of protecting employees from the dangers of second-hand smoke inhalation.
Several thousand small bars and cafes in the Netherlands united late last year to defy the smoking ban and create a joint legal defence fund, arguing they lacked the floor space and money to erect separate smoking-only areas.
Prosecutors have taken the cases to a higher court for a definitive ruling.