Local news translated – Jan. 30, 2023

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, Jan. 30, 2023

As of Tuesday, mask obligation on public transportation will be dropped

Since the end of April 2020, masks have been mandatory on buses and trains in Baden-Württemberg. As of Tuesday, January 31, mouth-nose protection no longer has to be worn. The mandatory requirement also ceases to apply to the staff at doctors’ offices.

These are the last requirements that the state can decide. For a short time, the state and federal governments will still go their separate ways on the railroad: Although the obligation is dropped for local traffic, the mask must still be worn when using trains for long-distance travel with Deutsche Bahn up to and including Wednesday (February 1).

Currently, it is sufficient to only recommend wearing the mouth-nose protection primarily in publicly accessible indoor areas and on public transportation, the Ministry of Health had said when announcing the new COVID regulations, which will come into force on Tuesday. The federal COVID regulations are still valid until April 7, when, according to the current status, the mask requirement for patients and visitors in medical practices will also be dropped. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 30)

Baden-Württemberg – More than 100,000 small firearms licenses for the first time

Anyone in Baden-Württemberg who wants to carry warning or irritant weapons needs a small firearms license. And more and more people in the southwest possess such a license; for the first time, there are more than 100,000: At the end of 2022, 102,993 small firearms licenses were registered in the state. This is shown by figures from the Ministry of the Interior, which are available to our newspaper. That is more than ever before and just under 5200 more than in 2021 at the end of the year (97 826). The number of small firearms licenses rose steadily in recent years, in 2014 it was still at

40 001.  “The Ministry of the Interior is observing the development with care,” a spokeswoman told our newspaper. She added that the police in Baden-Württemberg primarily want to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of extremists and Reichbürger.  Last year, the Greens had already demanded that a permit should also be required for the purchase and possession of alarm, irritant and signal weapons – and that the small firearms license should no longer be issued for an unlimited period, but only for a limited time.  When asked about this, the CDU-led Ministry of the Interior pointed to the laws already in place. A spokeswoman emphasized, “The police focus and primary goal is to ensure that weapons do not come into the possession of unreliable persons. Contemplated gun law changes are to be discussed at the federal level in the political vote.”  Anyone who wants to apply for a small firearms license must be of legal age. In addition, the competent authority must have checked the reliability and personal suitability – and recheck it at least every three years. According to the Ministry of the Interior, it is forbidden to shoot with the weapons outside certain areas. These include, for example, one’s own home, one’s own fenced-in property or a shooting range. Anyone carrying an alarm, irritant or signal weapon outside these areas without a small arms license is committing a criminal offense. (Stgt Nachrichten, Jan 30)

Manfred Lucha calls for ban on single-use of E-cigarettes

The new chairman of the Conference of Health Ministers wants to push for a ban on single-use E-cigarettes. “I am absolutely in favor of these vapes being taken off the market,” Baden-Württemberg’s Health Minister Manfred Lucha told the German Press Agency in Stuttgart. He said there are already efforts by colleagues in the environmental sector to consider a ban. “As health minister, I expressly support these. The federal and state governments should now urgently address this issue,” the Green politician said. However, he was speaking for himself and not for the state government, Lucha said.

Bavaria is calling for a Europe-wide ban on disposable E-cigarettes. The cabinet there had recently passed a Bundesrat initiative calling on the federal government to lobby at EU level for a sales ban on such disposable products. The background to the initiative is to slow down the growing market for these disposable products. After only one use of the E-cigarettes, electronic waste, plastic waste and used batteries would accumulate. With an amendment to the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive, a ban could be enshrined in the Single-Use Plastics Ban Regulation, he said.  “Vapes are so dangerous because they are such a low-threshold, lifestyle-type entry point,” Lucha told dpa. “This significantly lowers the threshold of access.” But it’s not just disposable cigarettes that are a thorn in his side, but e-cigarette smoking in general. “We need to have an honest debate about banning electronic cigarettes, for example when it comes to the flavors,” Lucha said. “It is precisely these flavors that tempt people to start.” According to his ministry, added flavors that made e-cigarettes appealing, such as menthol, should be banned. The addition of menthol has been banned in classic cigarettes since 2020.  It is not comprehensible why E-cigarettes should be subject to less stringent regulations than classic cigarettes, Lucha said. He calls for legal equality. “I consider the discussion as to whether smoking, vaporizing or only heating is taking place here to be a sham debate. In the end, what matters is which pollutants arrive in the body of the user or nearby persons.” E-cigarettes suggest a lower health burden – and this must be avoided, he said.  The rules of non-smoker protection must also apply to E-cigarettes, Lucha said. But so far, that only applies if the E-cigarettes that also contain nicotine, Lucha’s ministry said. If someone smokes an E-cigarette in a restaurant, regulatory agencies have little chance of proving that there really is nicotine in it, the ministry said. “A general equality, regardless of the ingredient, would create legal certainty here and greatly simplify the possibility of control.”   Disposable E-cigarettes are filled with a flavored liquid that cannot be refilled and have a battery that cannot be recharged. After complete use, they are therefore E-waste. “We need a qualified debate about more and more precise restrictions on smoking and consistent non-smoker protection,” he said. “We’re looking at which customs and spatial contexts we don’t want smoking in even more.”  The professional association of pulmonologists warns of a veritable epidemic, as is already rampant in the United States. “We fear that the next generation of smokers will be raised,” says Stuttgart-based pulmonologist Alexander Rupp. E-cigarettes are anything but harmless, he adds. Vapes are a gateway to tobacco smoke, he said. “They are especially aimed at young people, want to come across as cool and hip.” It’s much easier to get into, Rupp said. The association representative stressed that he fully supports Lucha’s push, saying there is a need for a ban on advertising and restrictions on sales.


Nachrichten, Jan 30)