Deutsche Bahn ban: binding?
August 19, 2008 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Based on your own experience in Germany over the last year: is Deutsche Bahn's systemwide smoking ban inside Germany being enforced?

Is it being enforced even on overnight trains?

And does enforcement stop at the German border? (For example, on a train from a Germany to Austria, does the enforcement stop when the train reaches Austrian soil, when the train reaches its first stopping point in an Austrian city, or what?)

Asking because hard experience has shown me it's enforcement that matters, not rules on paper. And I know I'll need more research than just an AskMe question before I really know, but I thought I'd start my research here in case the collective answer I get is "not really" or "forget it."

Thanks for answering my question about DB trains (not a question about smoking/bans in general).
posted by kalapierson to Travel & Transportation around Germany (18 answers total)
I've been on several DB trains over the last year (maybe 10 in total, counting long distance ICE trains and small ones). On the train, I have seen no smoking, and no evidence of smoking. Outside on some platforms there are "rauchen island" smoking islands, little squares marked out with bright yellow paint, where us social lepers can go stand and get a fix.
posted by handee at 12:20 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thank you! Can't tell you how exciting it is to hear that.
posted by kalapierson at 12:26 PM on August 19, 2008

From 25+ years of regularly traveling DB, the answer would be I have rarely seen an occasion where it would have needed to be enforced. Neither back when there were specific smoking and non-smoking wagons, nor now that smoking is banned in every wagon.

There is of course the drunk/drugged mobster in some nighttime commuter train, but thats the proverbial exception to the rule.
posted by uncle harold at 12:27 PM on August 19, 2008

Heh, it's germany! If smoking is not allowed and you smoke, you will last about 5 minutes before someone calls the bahn attendant, and you will get prosecuted and kicked out of the train. The overnight trains stop at various locations, just make sure you take one with appropriate smoking distances. In any case, the older trains have windows in the toilets that open outwards, smoke with your cig outside and nobody will ever know.
posted by markovich at 1:32 PM on August 19, 2008

All trains and train stations/stops operated by Deutsche Bahn AG are non-smoking, except where marked.
posted by oaf at 2:00 PM on August 19, 2008

I think it's reasonable to assume that if DB owns or operates the train, even if it's on ÖBB tracks, that they could still throw you off the train for smoking.
posted by oaf at 2:08 PM on August 19, 2008

Smoking is also banned in trains in Austria, I believe starting September 2007. I was there in October, and it was definitely being enforced / no one was smoking in the trains.

I can't seem to find a "better" source, but according to Rail Europe, smoking is banned in all trains in France, Italy, Norway, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, and Switzerland.

Additionally, there might be some sort of EU regulation harmonization going on with regards to smoking on trains, but again... only a vague recollection & I can't find any news articles about it at the moment.
posted by polexa at 2:22 PM on August 19, 2008

Forgot to add -- I was in Germany in July and on a few overnight trains. There are still smoking sections in the train stations (usually certain sections of the platforms). It's annoying if the only available seats are nearby.

In the overnight trains I think I saw someone once or twice standing at the very end of a train car smoking out of a window, or in the connector space between two cars. Only on those cars with separate sleeper compartments, not the open seating areas (Sitzwagen).

Overnight trains tend to stop for longer periods of time (10 - 20 minutes) at their late-night stops, so smokers will jump out and suck down a cigarette before the train takes off again.
posted by polexa at 2:27 PM on August 19, 2008

This is excellent. Thank you all. If it wasn't clear, I'm asking because I can't breathe smoke in closed spaces (not because I want to know where I could smoke). I've been in Germany & Austria for several month-long blocks over the last decade, and I've seen enforcement of stated smoking rules ranging from very strict to very casual/nonexistent, depending on the context.

I'm not surprised DB is enforcing its new ban but I wanted to be sure, so I could know whether my planning for next year's travels can include an that I can ride overnight trains.
posted by kalapierson at 2:34 PM on August 19, 2008

Did DB impose the ban on their own or because of the nation-wide ban? I read very recently that the smoking ban was found unconstitutional and suspended. So as far as I know smoking is allowed again in Germany, at least until it gets banned again, but not sure about DB policy.
posted by sero_venientibus_ossa at 3:05 PM on August 19, 2008

You'll be fine.

I've taken several overnight trains in Austria and Italy this summer and didn't see/smell anyone breaking the no smoking rules. The rules are definitely enforced. The worst you may have to deal with is a slightly smoky bathroom, but they're usually well ventilated and the smell clears out quickly.
posted by syzygy at 3:07 PM on August 19, 2008

You can add Denmark to the list of nations with banned smoking on trains. This leaves a lot of the stations/platforms smelling like hell, though....
posted by KimG at 3:16 PM on August 19, 2008

@sero...: the bans that was thrown out were in Berlin and Baden-Württemberg. They banned smoking in bars but made an exception for those that had a separate room for smokers. They were declared unconstitutional out on the grounds that they discriminated against small bars that could not afford space or equipment for a separate room, and the judges noted that a total ban would be acceptable. So it's not applicable to this case involving trains.
posted by brianogilvie at 3:59 PM on August 19, 2008

Did DB impose the ban on their own or because of the nation-wide ban? I read very recently that the smoking ban was found unconstitutional and suspended. So as far as I know smoking is allowed again in Germany, at least until it gets banned again, but not sure about DB policy.

The train smoking ban is unrelated to the law(s) in Berlin & Baden-Württemburg recently declared partially unconstitutional. Those relate to restaurants and bars and were judged discriminatory against smaller establishments (since larger ones could designate a smoking room). More recently, a court upheld a strict law in Bavaria, in case that's confusing. Before I dig myself deeper into legislative details that don't really understand, here are two links.
posted by polexa at 4:39 PM on August 19, 2008

Doh, should have previewed. Obviously I spent way too long composing that.
posted by polexa at 4:40 PM on August 19, 2008

@brianogilvie & polexa: Thanks for clarifying that.
posted by sero_venientibus_ossa at 6:27 PM on August 19, 2008

we germans don't cross the road if the light is red at four in the morning and we can't see a soul for miles. if anyone started smoking in a DB train, I'd expect some middle-aged woman to instantly and loudly start lecturing him. seriously, rules are holy. the bahn attendant ("Schaffner") would probably kick you out at the next stop after rather directly having told you off for smoking (asking? no way. he'll scold you).

it's about there being a rule and if I have to follow it, then I'll make you suffer from it as well. we're righteous people.

I am only very slightly exaggerating.
posted by krautland at 6:54 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

An outline of Die Bahn's policy on smoke-free travel is here. I couldn't find an English version, but it looks like you speak German. Google translates it intelligibly enough for anyone who comes upon this question later.
posted by oaf at 9:15 PM on August 19, 2008

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