Smoking – or not – in Germany

Whether you are a smoker or not, it’s good to know where people can/ cannot smoke in Germany.

Unlike in the UK, where there is a general smoking ban in all enclosed work places, the law is slightly different in Germany.

Generally, yes, there is a smoking ban, but what exactly that is depends on the 16 individual states.

The following is a screenshot from Wikipedia. There is so much to see that you can’t read it, but it gives you an idea how each state decides on where there is or might be a smoking ban. If you want or need to know more, go to Smoking in Germany or check it out in German: Nichtraucherschutzgesetze in Deutschland (Nichtraucherschutzgesetz = non smoking act)

Public transport is the only category where there is absolutely no smoking in all states. Every other category, like schools, hospitals, prisons, restaurants etc… have a smoking ban but sometimes exceptions. For example, pubs and restaurants may have two rooms, one for non-smokers and one for smokers. So, if you smoke and want to visit Germany, you might want to check Wikipedia beforehand to make sure you know what the law is in the area you will be visiting.

In the meantime, here are some useful words or phrases you might see or hear in Germany:

  • rauchen – to smoke
  • eine Zigarette rauchen – to smoke a cigarette
  • Pfeife rauchen – to smoke a pipe
  • passiv rauchen – to smoke passively
  • eine rauchen (colloquial) – to have a smoke
  • die Kippe, die Fluppe, der Glimmstängel – some colloquial words for cigarette
  • das Rauchen einschränken – cut down on smoking
  • das Rauchen aufgeben – give up smoking
  • Rauchen verboten! – No smoking! (lit. smoking forbidden)
  • Absolutes Rauchverbot! – total smoking ban

Depending on where you are, you might see these signs at a station
Rauchfreier Bahnhof – non-smoking station ( a station in Lower Saxony)

Raucherbereich – smoking area (Dresden main station)

The weirdest sign I’ve seen is this one: Raucherkneipe = smokers’ pub.
A ‘Raucherkneipe’ is a pub which is smaller than 75 square meters with only one room. If you don’t smoke and don’t want to surround yourself with smoke, avoid these!

Don’t forget, Rauchen kann tödlich sein. – Smoking can kill.

I leave you with one of many silly adverts from the 1950s. It was so popular that even (or should I say especially) we children knew the catch phrase:”Halt, mein Freund! Wer wird denn gleich in die Luft gehen? Greife lieber zur HB! Dann geht alles wie von selbst.”

I’m glad they don’t show adverts for smoking anymore, but I did like these HB ones. Here is a collection of them (minus the actual advert, just the silly stories)

PS. If you vape and want to look for electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, the German words are elektrische Zigarette, elektronische Zigarette or E-Zigarette.

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.