Press Review

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Are taxes good for your health? Is your favourite supermarket ripping you off? And will Temelin go off with a bang? These are the questions posed by some of today's papers.

PRAVO focuses on the Health Ministry's recent initiative to fight the ills of smoking and drinking by increasing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. If it was only a matter of increasing the price of these vices, then Czechs would long have been ignorant of the word "ashtray" and bars would regularly be serving goat's milk on tap, writes the paper. The fact is that the war on booze and nicotine fought with prohibition and strong taxation has a long and ineffective history. An addict will not forgo these vices; no matter what the price, and will tighten the money belt elsewhere. Thus, often, the true cost of pricier rum is carried by the children of alcoholics. The only path to achieving the Health Ministry's goal of reducing consumption, especially among young smokers and drinkers, is through prevention, concludes PRAVO.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports on a quiet but nevertheless significant victory for freedom of information. Six months after the law on the free access to information came into effect, the Food and Retail Authority has started publicising the fines and sanctions its inspectors impose on Czech businesses on the Internet. This is something that concerns all citizens, writes the paper, for consumers can now find out whether their local corner shop has been shortchanging them or if the supermarket down the street is selling expired goods. Retailers must thus face not only monetary fines but public embarrassment and loss of customers. An important victory in the struggle of citizen versus state and one that gives a true picture of who's who.

And LIDOVE NOVINY attempts to put some perspective on the recent concerns over the safety of the Temelin nuclear plant expressed by German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin. No one expects that the Czech government will halt the launching of the plant in the final phases, not even Mr Trittin himself, writes the paper. The Minister is not naive, but had to make the appeal in order to stay true to his government's policy to phase out Germany's own advanced nuclear energy. However, one would hope that the Czech Republic would tread more carefully than in the past when it comes to declarations of violations of state sovereignty. There is no such thing as "internal affairs" when it comes to nuclear safety, says the daily. The Temelin plant contains Soviet-designed reactors whose construction dates back to the 1980s and whose safety has been questioned by the German Atomic Energy Authority. In this light, and in light of the recent Kursk submarine disaster, is it any wonder that faith in Soviet technology is waning? asks LIDOVE NOVINY.