One of the few things you may dislike about living in or traveling to Austria is the number of Austrians who smoke.
As a non-smoker, I found it a little annoying when I first moved to Vienna.
Especially as, even after the Austrian smoking ban in bars, cafes and restaurants went into effect in November, 2019 a substantial number of Austrians still seem to smoke.
Although now they have to do it out on the street outside a bar or restaurant, or privately at home.
So what is the percentage of Austrians that smoke in 2023, and has that number risen or come down in recent years?
And what age groups does it include?
What percentage of Austrians smoke in 2023?
While it is honestly quite difficult to get an accurate percentage of the number of Austrians who smoke in 2023, either because the available data is a few years old, or because data that is available varies widely depending on who performed the study, the approximate percentage is likely to still be between 29 percent (2018) and 26.4 percent (2019).
That is for Austrians who are age 15 or older, and who smoke either daily or several times a week.
Austria’s smoking rate is also one of the highest smoking rates in the EU (Sweden has EU’s lowest smoking rate at just 8 percent), although it has fallen quite substantially in recent years from the 31.2 percent of Austrians who smoked in 2010.
That still-high number though is the primary reason why Austria is still #37 in the world for lung cancer rates, according to 2020 figures from the World Health Organization.
How has Austria’s smoking ban changed things?
When the smoking ban in bars, restaurants and cafes went into effect in 2019, I fully expected fewer Austrians to smoke.
But, just a cursory look at the people I know who now smoke outside the bars and clubs I frequent instead of inside, where they used to smoke up until 2019, that number has not changed by much.
The only change now is restaurants, bars and cafes are much more pleasant places to sit. If you are inside.
If you wish to sit outside, however, the smoking ban has done nothing but increase the number of people smoking at tables outside cafes and restaurants.
Something that can sometimes still be annoying if you are a non-smoker trying to enjoy a nice meal.
And, if you are planning on entering bars and clubs, you will often have to navigate a group of smokers congregated around the outside door.
Especially during the winter months.
Where can you not smoke in Austria?
Basically, you cannot smoke anywhere indoors in Vienna, or elsewhere in Austria, unless a building has a dedicated smoking room.
Some Austrian businesses do, but most do not.
You also cannot smoke in trains, trams, buses or taxis. Neither can you smoke on the platforms of the U-bahn (subway) in Vienna, nor anywhere in Austria’s railway stations.
There is also one more ban on smoking in Austria, which may surprise you but I think is a fabulous law.
That law says you are not allowed to smoke in any vehicle, privately owned or otherwise, if someone traveling in it is under the age of 18.
For more information about smoking in Austria (and alcohol use), the Austrian government has a dedicated page with everything you should need.
As a non-smoker myself, though, I will point out, if you are traveling to Vienna or anywhere else in Austria and worrying about avoiding smokers, it really has never been a huge problem for me.
I have also traveled to other countries around the world (Myanmar, Slovakia and France, for instance) where it is much much worse.
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