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Smoking ban goes into effect in Dutch cafes

THE HAGUE, July  1 – A smoking ban went into effect Tuesday in cafes, restaurants and bars across the Netherlands, as the country joins a growing list of European countries to tighten rules on tobacco use in public places.

Smoking marijuana in the Netherlands’ infamous "coffee shops" is still permitted under the new law — as long the drug is not mixed with tobacco.

Owners of cafes and bars are bracing for a feared plunge in business, and even coffee shops expect to be hurt by the measure as most Dutch marijuana smokers prefer to blend it with tobacco.

The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority said it would start immediately with inspections.

Offenders face fines of up to 2,400 euros (3,800 dollars).

The Dutch Central Statistical Bureau recently found that the number of smokers in the Netherlands has dropped by nearly 100,000 since 2000, with less than a quarter of Dutch still enjoying a cigarette.

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