Smoking in restaurants

Smoking is prohibited in all restaurants. If the proprietor wants to allow smoking in an outdoor service area (terrace), he/she must make sure that tobacco smoke is not spread indoors through open windows, doors or ventilation.

Smoking rooms -only for smoking

Restaurants can arrange a designated smoking area, in which people can only spend short periods of time. The area is intended for smoking only, so no serving and consuming food or drink nor  games and other such activities.

Working in the smoking area is also not allowed, with the exception of security, fire and rescue measures and other activities that are necessary for safety. Cleaning the smoking area is only allowed after it has been carefully ventilated.

The number of smoking rooms in restaurants has recently declined dramatically. In 2019, there were still about 430 of them in Finland, whereas in 2022 there were only 300 of them. The reduction in the number of smoking rooms in restaurants has probably been influenced by the fact that maintaining them or replacing old smoking rooms is not economically viable. Many restaurants have thus removed their smoking room in connection with renovations.

Full protection needed

As a rule, smoking is still possible on the terraces of restaurants if the terrace does not meet the definition of indoor space in the Tobacco Act and tobacco smoke cannot be carried to spaces where smoking is prohibited, such as the restaurant’s indoor areas. Thus, restaurant customers and employees are constantly exposed to tobacco smoke on their terraces.

Terraces often also have structures to prevent the spread and degradation of smoke, which increase the exposure of those in terraces to tobacco smoke. Smoking on the terraces of restaurants often also causes smoke harm to the residential dwellings above them. Addressing the situation by means of current legislation has proved to be extremely challenging. On the basis of the above, the working group to develop national tobacco and nicotine policy proposed that the possibility of the restaurant’s smoking rooms be removed and that smoking on restaurant terraces be banned.

  • Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control emphasizes the Convention Parties must ensure protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, public transport, indoor public places and, as appropriate, other public places.
  • The Guidelines for implementation of the Article require the total elimination of smoking and tobacco smoke in a particular space in order to create a 100% smokefree environment.
  • There is no safe level of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and technical measures, such as ventilation, air filters or marked smoking areas, do not protect from it.