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Smoking In Germany Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Culture, Language

Today’s post is about das Rauchen – smoking – in Germany. I was recently in Munich and one of the things that fascinates me every time I go there is the presence of smoking ads and cigarette vending machines in the streets. In the UK, you will not see one single smoking advert, and you definitely won’t see vending machines selling cigarettes anymore! So let’s take a look at how it is in Germany.


All cigarette advertising on television was banned in Germany in 1975. The 16 federal states of Germany have their own smoking laws in place, some weaker than others. That is why you may still see smoking areas in smaller restaurants, bars and cafes. But you’ll find that, on the whole, public places in Germany are rauchfrei – smoke-free.


Zigarettenautomat in Munich. Own photo.

Above is a photo I took of a cigarette vending machine in Munich. As you can see at the very top, these machines now require a form of Altersnachweis – proof of age – which is meant to prevent underage smoking. What’s unusual is that there don’t seem to be any warning messages on the machine about the hazards of smoking, such as:

Lucky Strike-white-back

‘Smokers die younger’ © Jared Preston / , via Wikimedia Commons

Others you may see in German include:

Rauchen verursacht tödlichen Lungenkrebs. ——- Smoking causes fatal lung cancer.

Rauchen lässt Ihre Haut altern. ———— Smoking ages the skin.

Rauchen macht sehr schnell abhängig: Fangen Sie gar nicht erst an! ———– Smoking is highly addictive: Don’t start in the first place!



Here’s a smoking advert I saw at a bus stop – but these kinds of billboards can be seen all over Munich. At the bottom it says ‘Rauchen kann tödlich sein’ – ‘Smoking can kill’. Germany is one of just two EU countries who still use billboards to advertise cigarettes (the other being Bulgaria).

Camel ad at a bus stop in Germany 2017. Own photo.



Germany’s neighbour Austria is a little further behind Germany; it has a big smoking culture and as such is yet to impose the full smoking ban in cafes and restaurants. This ban will be coming into effect from May 2018. In the meantime, someone has made a website listing all of the smoke-free cafes/restaurants in Austria (by region) – the website is very cleverly titled http://da.stinkts.net – ‘It doesn’t stink here’ (where ‘net’ is how you say ‘nicht’not – in Austrian)!


Perhaps I only find this interesting because of the complete absence of smoking adverts in the UK (cigarettes are even covered up behind a screen in shops here), but I thought I’d share it with you as it’s always interesting to see how countries differ, and this may be something about Germany that you weren’t aware of yet. 🙂

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and love writing about German language and culture. I also work as a group fitness instructor.


  1. Angela:

    I always found it ironic that the Germans are so conscientious of health (walking everywhere, baden-galore, no chemical use on their produce, etc.), but they smoke like chimneys!

    • Constanze:

      @Angela I think this is also why it surprises me to still see adverts and vending machines, Angela! You’re absolutely right!

  2. Stephen:

    Ive been learning german sporadically for a while and would greatly appreciate any resources i can obtain.
    Kind regards

  3. Djoni/John Surja:

    I have been learning for several years, and I still need more resources to improve myself. I need your advice how can I improve my speaking skills. I did not have the opportunity to improve conversation skill.
    Thank you for your advice.

    D. John Surja