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Dealing with smoking on GAS tour

We will be on the GAS tour in 2 weeks and have heard that smoking is much more common in those 3 countries than in the U.S. So, is there smoking inside restaurants? Do restaurants have "non-smoking areas? I think that the rules for Rick Steves tours stipulate that there is no smoking allowed in the rooms, but will we be in rooms that were previously smoked in. I have major issues being around smokers and I'm hoping we won't have to deal with it. Thanks for any input.

Posted by
8889 posts

Smoking is not allowed inside public buildings, including restaurants. The problem is that is summer most restaurants have tables outside, and there is no restriction on smoking outside buildings.

Posted by
608 posts

I didn't notice a problem with any hotel rooms that had been smoked in on our tour. I did notice a lot more smoking in public there than I'm used to, just walking down the street and at outdoor seating at cafés. If it really bothers you, you will probably have to plan to sit indoors at restaurants. We got used to it by the end of our tour and didn't notice it any more. You'll have a great time. So excited for you! Come back and tell us about your time after you're done.

Posted by
710 posts

I've never noticed it in any of the tour hotels, including those on the GAS.

Posted by
12040 posts

Not a single hotel where I have ever stayed in Germany, Austria or Switzerland reeked of smoke.

As noted, smoking is effectively banned indoors in Germany and Austria... I'm not 100% sure about Switzerland, but I've never indoor smoke there either.

Posted by
3491 posts

Never had an issue with smoking on any RS tour and I have been on ten of them. RS seems to choose hotels on purpose that don't allow smoking. Never had an issue with other tour participants smoking around us either even though some were heavy smokers and you could notice it on their clothing. Yes, I have on occasion noted smoke at outdoor restaurants while out for dinner but no worse than in many US cities I have visited. The "non smoking" section is indoors for restaurants in the EU.

Of course the warning that Rick likes to use that a non smoking room in Europe just means the current occupant is not currently smoking is to let you know that it might happen. But I feel that is left over from when he first started leading tours and smoking was still more tolerated in general.

Posted by
7205 posts

And if you really do have a problem with smoke attempt to distance yourself from the smoker instead of making a big deal/scene - that's really annoying. Yes, I'm a total non-smoker and hate it, but some people will just make huge scenes over it.

Posted by
786 posts

I agree with the comment about eating outside- this is when the smoking is the most noticeable, especially if the restaurant is crowded. If you know it will bother you, you may want to eat inside or look for places that are not very crowded. But I have never noticed it in hotel rooms.

Posted by
5784 posts

Germany has 16 federal states, and the majority of them went smokefree
in or before January 2008. The remaining states are expected to follow
suit by July 2008. These state laws apply to all public buildings,
including bars, restaurants and nightclubs. However, in most states
establishments are allowed to provide separate smoking rooms. Bavaria
is the only state that does not allow smoking rooms.

A 2005 smokefree law covers Austria's public and private
non-hospitality workplaces, as well as health care and educational

As of January 2009, a weak expansion of the law requires restaurants and bars of a certain size to have non-smoking areas. In
response to the weak new law, Salzburg Governor Gabi Burgstaller
called for the enactment of a strong smokefree law to cover all indoor
public places, including all hospitality establishments.

While some Swiss cantons have passed strong local smokefree laws,
Switzerland still lags behind other European countries in federal
legislation. In October 2007 the House of Representatives adopted a
draft federal proposal. Under the weak federal proposal, smoking was
still permitted in restaurants and nightclubs, and allowed in smoking
rooms. In May 2010, a nationwide law took effect, which provided
cantons with minimum smokefree requirements.

Posted by
672 posts

After 22 tours, I don't remember ever having a hotel room that smelled of smoke - pretty remarkable, actually. On a non-RS tour, we had a guide who chain smoked. That was most unpleasant, especially since it was a walking tour and we always seemed to be trekking in his smoke. You absolutely won't find that on a RS tour! Restaurants are a different matter, as smoking is allowed outside. I hate eating with smoke in my face, but I do my best to just let it go when I'm traveling. If you simply can't tolerate it, you'd be best off eating inside.

Posted by
375 posts

Thanks for all the great information. I will probably eat indoors or suffer a little bit. If I'm outside eating around a smoker, I can eat pretty fast and then leave. I Never cause a scene with smokers (although I'd like to at times). I wasn't raised that way. We Southern ladies have a tradition to uphold.😊

Posted by
14898 posts

This year I had lots of opportunities to eat with outdoor seating in Europe in all the "GAS countries" except the Netherlands. I really hate the smell of smoke and have a pretty low tolerance level. The only place I chose to eat inside because of smokers was in Vienna when there were a lot of smokers outside, at one restaurant. Seems like a lot of Viennese smoke cigars! At one restaurant in Salzburg, there was a fellow at the bar who was smoking. He was a friend of the bartender (maybe the owner?) and that was a little annoying - and against the law, but it wasn't too noticeable, so I stayed.

Posted by
369 posts

Smoking and smoke odor has never been a problem for me on an RS tour.


When eating at outdoors in France. Since people can't smoke indoors, they sit outside so they can smoke. And some people with an indoor table will wander out the sidewalk and light up. I guess it sort of like sitting next to a table of noisy Americans in a restaurant. :-)

Posted by
12882 posts

In Vienna I know of one restaurant that sets aside a particular room for smokers, which also has a door to the outside. If 3 or more smokers are puffing away, which I've seen happen from the non-smoking area of the restaurant, the door to the outside is left open. The door to the non-smoking area is always closed. The greater part of the restaurant is non-smoking. That's Cafe Westend.