BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- EU officials said Monday they are in talks with employers and trade unions over plans to impose a blanket Europe-wide ban on smoking in the work place, from the factory floor to restaurants and pubs.
EU spokeswoman Chantal Hughes says the European Commission would like to see a ban on smoking in all workplaces "for both health and safety reasons."
"We have a duty to ensure that all workplaces are safe and secure for workers and at this stage we don't think that is the case, that's why the Commission would like to see a ban in all workplaces," said Hughes.
She said consultations with unions and business groups are at an early stage however, and that any new EU-wide ban could be years away.
All 27 EU nations have rules limiting smoking in public places, but they vary from country to country. Some permit exemptions allow smoking to continue in bars and cafes, posing health concerns for those that work there.
The European Commission says passive smoking kills almost 80,000 people a year in the EU.