Czechs clarify smoking legislation but total ban still long way off
The Czech Republic clarified – rather than tightened – its smoking legislation on Friday, when the Senate passed an amendment to the law on smoking in public places. The amendment was very much a compromise between anti-smoking campaigners on one hand, and those trying to protect people’s right to light up in bars and restaurants on the other. But as Rob Cameron reports, a total ban – such as that which exists in many European countries - is still a long way off.
The new law attempts to clarify that. From now on – if the president signs it – pubs and restaurants will decide whether they are smoking or not, and will be obliged to say so on the door. Veteran anti-smoking campaigner Boris Šťastný, one of the MPs who drew up the amendment, had this to say to the online news server novinky.cz:
“At the moment the situation is absolute chaos. No-one knows where smoking is allowed and where it’s not. All the pub or restaurant has to do is put a sign on the table saying “smoking” and that automatically creates a smoking area. Now, at least, thanks to this new law, customers will know as soon as they walk through the door of the pub or restaurant whether it’s non-smoking or not. Having said that I’m still committed to my lifelong aim - that every pub, bar and restaurant in this country should be non-smoking, without exception.”
The amendment has been grudgingly welcomed even by those who’ve fought every attempt to infringe on the rights of smokers. Their spiritual father is Senator Jaroslav Kubera, rarely seen without a cigarette dangling from his lips. We spoke to him earlier by telephone.
Senator Kubera categorically rejects the idea that the Czech Republic is drifting inexorably towards a total ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, such as that already in place in countries such as France, Ireland and Italy. He believes if smoking is banned, it will be beer and sausages next, and says neither Europe nor the European Union has any right to interfere in the sovereign rights of Czechs to light up.