Another in my Short Questions and Answers About Austria series is the answer to the question, “Can you smoke cigarettes in bars, clubs and restaurants in Vienna, Austria?
After all, a substantial percentage of the Austrian population smokes, which can be evidenced in the high rate of lung cancer in Austria compared to much of the world.
(According to WHO statistics in 2020, Austria was #37 in the world for lung cancer rates at that time, with 22.79 people out of every 100,000 dying as a result of lung cancer).
And in the fact that, at one point, Austria was nicknamed “The Ashtray of Europe”.
Up until a few years ago then, anyone of legal smoking age could go into any bar, club or restaurant in Vienna, Austria and smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
Unless that bar, club or restaurant had decided they were a Non Smoking establishment.
Can you smoke in bars, clubs and restaurants in Vienna, Austria nowadays?
The ability to smoke indoors in most public places in Vienna, and the rest of Austria, was made illegal in 2019 when the Austrian Parliament voted to ban the use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, herbal smoking products, pipes and hookahs in enclosed public spaces.
Sure, there were some protests when the ban went into effect, and some people stopped visiting their favorite bar or restaurant for a while.
But like anything else, once people realized the change in law was not likely to revert back, they eventually had to accept it.
For those of us who don’t smoke then, that has meant you can go and ejoy a beer or two with friends in a bar, listen to a local band play in one of Vienna’s many cool clubs, or eat a meal in a restaurant.
All while not being forced to breathe in copious amounts of second-hand smoke when you do.
Your clothes and hair smell better too.
So, no, you cannot smoke in a bar, club or restaurant in Vienna or in other public indoor places in 2023 or beyond. (Unless the law changes again, and that does not seem likely).
Indoor places where you cannot smoke in Vienna include the airport, offices, hospitals, schools and universities, stores and shopping malls, museums, movie theaters, fitness centers, non-permanent marquee tents and more. (The Austrian government explains these smoking ban areas in depth — in German).
Smoking is also banned on public transportation, in taxis and hire cars.
In other words, if you are indoors in Vienna, unless it is your own private home or a friend’s house or apartment who doesn’t mind smokers, you will not be allowed to smoke.
Where can you smoke in Vienna, Austria?
Really, there is only one place left for most people to be able to smoke in Vienna nowadays, other than in their own homes.
That is outdoors, which is why you will often see people standing outside a bar, club or restaurant with a group of other smokers all taking a few drags.
That means you can smoke on the street, you can generally smoke in parks, and you can smoke in designated areas that have been set up outside by various bars, clubs and restaurants around the city.
Surprisingly too, you can also smoke on railway platforms, as long as they are not covered and you don’t take that lit cigarette on the train with you.
Make sure too that you don’t throw your cigarette butt on the street.
After all, there are plenty of litter bins in Vienna (see photo below) with special ‘cigarette stubbing’ attachments on the top of them. That way you can put out your cigarette butt before you throw it away, so you don’t set the bin on fire.
Other than that, you will be expected to keep your cigarette smoking to your own indoor space.
Oh and that does not include your hotel room, as smoking is banned there too. Some hotels do, however, have designated smoking areas for their guests.
Nor does it include in your car if you have someone with you who is under 18 years of age as, if you are seen by a police officer, it can cost you a quite hefty fine.