Poll: Most Czechs want easing of smoking ban
One of the most notable legal changes in the Czech Republic this year has been a ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants that entered force before the summer. However a new opinion poll suggests that almost three-fifths of Czechs believe the prohibition is too strict.
The ban, which also applies to other public places such as cinemas, theatres and sports stadiums, had been debated for many years.
However, almost seven months after the relevant bill entered the statute books, most Czechs – 58 percent – feel that it is excessively strict and should be loosened.
That’s according to a survey produced for Czech Radio by the polling agency Median, whose director Přemysl Čech offers this breakdown of its findings.
“In terms of age, gender and education the differences tend to be small. Only in the case of university educated respondents does disagreement with easing the smoking regulations predominate over agreement. In that group 46 percent are for liberalisation and 52 percent are against.”
Among the strongest opponents of the smoking ban are restaurant and bar owners, particularly those in small Czech towns and villages.
However, the Ministry of Health is showing no signs of bowing to pressure to repeal or modify the bill.
Adam Vojtěch is minister of health in the recently appointed ANO government.
For their part, the owners of many small pubs and eateries say the results are already clear: Their takings are down.
What’s more, they fear that with the arrival of the first winter since the ban was introduced patrons will not be inclined to go outside for a smoke in the extreme cold and will prefer to stay away.
Critics of the ban signed a petition calling for it to be done away with completely. However, this proposal was rejected by the Senate earlier this month. The idea of softening the legislation by bringing back designated smoking areas was also turned down by the upper house.