Amsterdam Enforces Smoking Ban

Stephen Andrews
18 May 2023

Europe's most famous cannabis destination has introduced a ban on outdoor smoking weed. The prohibition, proposed earlier this year, is aimed at Amsterdam's Red Light district and will start taking effect by the end of May. City authorities hope that the measure will help improve the livelihood of local residents.

Amsterdam's city council officially approved a ban on outdoor smoking weed, applying to the city's famed Red Light district. The ban will go into effect from May 25 and will be enforced by police and local officials. Violation of the ban would result in a €100 ($109) fine.

The measure was proposed earlier this year by the Amsterdam city council. It's part of a broader effort to make the central downtown area more liveable for locals who have complained the area gets really "grim" after sunset. 

An earlier statement from the council said that old town residents suffer very much from mass tourism and the abuse of substances that is taking place on the streets; residents cannot sleep well, and the neighborhood feels unsafe at night.

"A smoking ban on the street should reduce nuisance. We are also looking at a pick-up ban at certain times for soft drugs. If the nuisance does not decrease enough, we will investigate whether we can ban smoking on terraces at coffee shops," the council said.

As a matter of fact, Amsterdam has been struggling with mass tourism for years now. Discontent has grown among residents because of the loud noise, littering of streets, and unruly behavior from tourists. 

Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halesma has proposed several unpopular policies in the past, including a ban on foreign tourists from the city's coffee shops entirely. Such bans are already maintained by some of the other big Dutch cities, like Rotterdam and Maastricht. 

A ban would aim to make tourism in the center more manageable and control the coffee shop supply chain, Halesma told counselors in a letter in 2019. She said coffee shops could put "the quality of life in the city center under pressure." 

One of Halesma's main goals as a mayor is to make the neighborhood around the Red Light District more liveable for locals. One of the measures already introduced during her term includes a ban on guided tours passing by the windows of local sex workers. 

The Red Light District, also known as the De Wallen neighborhood, accounts for approximately 10% to 15% of Amsterdam's tourism industry. It remains to see whether the upcoming ban on outdoor smoking in the area will help improve liveability for locals and whether city authorities will look for additional measures. 

Stephen Andrews