German state bans smoking at Oktoberfest

BERLIN - Smokers heading to Germany's famous annual beer festival, Oktoberfest, will be stuck lighting up outside after voters Sunday (local time) supported a total smoking ban in Bavarian for restaurants, bars, cafes and beer tents.

Although voter turnout for the referendum was relatively low, at 37.7 per cent, a full 61 per cent of those casting ballots favored a complete ban on smoking, according to Bavarian election officials. The ban overturns an existing law will take effect on Aug. 1 - with an exception allowing limited smoking at this year's Oktoberfest.

Bavaria once had some of the toughest smoking restrictions in Germany. But it eased them last year, allowing smoking in one-room bars of up to 800 square feet (75 square meters) and in beer tents -- a nod to Munich's annual Oktoberfest. Larger bars can have a separate room for smokers.

The left-leaning Greens and Social Democrats lobbied for a referendum in hopes of returning to a complete ban.

- AP

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