Iceland stubs out smoking

Soon only the volcanoes in Iceland will be smoking. Or, at least, that’s the idea behind the country’s new total ban on smoking in public places. The ban was introduced from 1st June and prohibits all customers in bars and restaurants from lighting up.

Many owners of establishments with large smoking clientele have felt the ban came in too fast. “The authorities didn’t give us any opportunities to create a smoking area outside bars and restaurants so most people have to resort to smoking on the pavement,” said Arnar Thor Gislason, the owner of Oliver, a popular Reykjavik bar and restaurant.

While there is little that can be done to stem the tide of new regulations which are coming into place in many countries across the world, restaurant and bar owners in Iceland are coming up with clever ideas to try and accommodate smokers.

Several establishments have installed gas heaters on the pavements in order to help keep patrons warm when they go outside for a cigarette. Others are even offering to loan blankets. Many venues have needed to increase staff levels by hiring additional doormen and bouncers to deal with the large numbers of customers smoking outside.

Figures from a survey in 2005 indicate that almost one in four people in Iceland smoke.