Many countries in Europe have public smoking bans in place. Some don’t allow smoking in any pub or restaurant; other countries require venues to have a separate area for those who light up and those who don’t. The Czech Republic has long resisted passing any laws to regulate the habit, and visitors are often overwhelmed by the amount of smoke swirling around. As of July 1 though, things may get a bit better.
A new law has gone into effect that says all bars and restaurants must post whether they are smoking, non-smoking or both. Both means they have a separate area for non-smokers; however that definition is quite loose. The law states that the space should be sufficiently ventilated. If you are craving a smoke free environment; it’s best to go to a place that displays the completely non-smoking sign, or check out the smoke free zone before committing. Higher-end restaurants and those in many hotels are already non-smoking. Most pubs, bars and cafes allow people to light-up at will.
Restaurants get to choose if they want to allow smoking or not; and those that fail to put a sticker on their door can be fined up to 5,000 CZK (about 247 USD or 196 EUR). Those caught allowing smoking where it should not occur can be fined up to 10,000 CZK. As usual, there are critics of the ban on both sides of the issue. Some people believe the law doesn’t go far enough and the country should go totally smoke free; while others think the new law is just another way of curtailing people’s personal freedom.
About 30 percent of Czech adults smoke; however a recent Eurobarometer poll found that 76 percent of Czechs would like non-smoking restaurants.
Photo by Jacy Meyer