TALLINN- Tallink, the largest shippingcompany in the Baltics,said it would contest anorder by a consumer watchdog toban smoking in bars and discoson board its ships.The shipper announced on Aug.17 that it would appeal the decisionby the Estonian ConsumerProtection Board, which will have 10days to respond to the company'scontest.The Tallink Group argued thateven though it permits smoking inbars and dance halls on its ships thecompany was not in violation of theTobacco Act. Tallink claims that theact allows ships to provide meetingareas and premises that can be designatedas a smoking area and whereclients can take their alcoholic beverages.
The Consumer Protection Boardon Aug. 15 issued an injunction toTallink, giving the shipper time untilAug. 17 to start implementing theban on smoking in its ship bars anddiscotheques.The injunction was issued afteran inspection on board Tallink'sships had established that althoughsmoking in ship restaurants hadbeen banned, smoking areas were setup in bars and in the disco, which theboard said was not permissible.Anne Reinkort, acting head ofthe board's market supervisiondepartment, told the Baltic NewsService that the injunction requiredTallink to end violations of theTobacco Act and answer to theConsumer Protection Board concerningits adherence to the order."If Tallink promises to abide bythe order, a new check will be performed,"Reinkort said.The number of passengers handledby the shipping group grew by1.9 percent by the end of July to934,063 passengers.
Growth in passengerturnover was biggest betweenEstonia and Finland and amountedto 7.7 percent.The company also announcedearlier this month that it was consideringexpanding its hotel chain toFinland and Sweden. Currently itowns two hotels 's the Tallink CityHotel downtown and the Tallink Spa& Conference Hotel in the port area.The latter is doing particularly well,company officials said.The group's hotel manager, formerFinance Minister Aivar Soerd,said the chain was also consideringopening a hotel in Riga.