Norwegian County Backs Smokers’ Rights


Levanger, a township of about 18,000 people in central Norway, banned all smoking by municipal employees during working hours on or off city property at the beginning of the year.

The ruling, which made national news Wednesday, came after three opponents of the rule, all local council members from the right-wing Party of Progress, asked the county governor’s office to assess the ban’s legality.

In a letter to the city dated Tuesday, the county declared the ban invalid because it violates the European Human Rights Convention.

It said the city can ban smoking on its property, but not, for example, if a worker was driving their own car or on private property.

The county cited a section of the convention that protects citizens’ private lives.

The letter said “a total ban on smoking during working hours is a measure that is not reasonable in relation to the goal of the ban.”

Birger Meinhardt and Steinar Holten, two of the politicians who lodged the complaint, celebrated the ruling on the steps of the Levanger town hall by lighting up the biggest cigars they could find.

“Just like before Jan. 1, 2004,” Holten told the Troender-Avisa newspaper as he puffed on the cigar.