Smoking still allowed in Czech bars

A law aimed at banning smoking in Czech bars and restaurants was rejected by a majority in the country's parliament on Wednesday after being watered down by more than 200 motions for amendments. But commentators stress that this doesn't mean the issue is off the agenda.

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Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Only moderate rejoicing from tobacco lobby

The tobacco industry can only be moderately happy about the failure of the anti-smoking law, Hospodářské noviny believes:

“This victory is not definitive. And the lobbyists have far more important battles ahead - against a new tobacco tax and packaging laws. ... With the current tax policy, the price of expensive brands has risen faster than those of cheap brands. For that reason smokers of cheap cigarettes are less motivated to quit the habit. A different form of taxation would limit this effect. ... Shocking images on packages have been in use since 2012 in Australia, and they've had a noticeable effect on consumers. ... The influence of the tobacco lobby in Czechia can be better assessed when it comes to topics like taxation and packaging than the smoking ban in restaurants.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

A victory for freedom

Mladá fronta dnes is relieved that the law against smoking in bars and restaurants was rejected:

“For a while it looked like Czech bars would change entirely. Until the motion was carried that a 'smoking section without service' could be set up in the middle of restaurants. Then it was clear that the whole thing would end as a farce. ... Luckily the entire law is now off the agenda. ... The state is increasingly acting like a gendarme who curtails the free market with regulations, quotas and bans. Consequently this decision is the first significant victory for freedom in the current government's term of office. This matter can only be regulated by the market and free choice. And often enough life itself presents a solution: non-smokers' restaurants are springing up like mushrooms after the rain.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Failure was predictable

The failure of the law banning smoking in Czechia's bars and restaurants comes as no surprise for Hospodářské noviny:

“When the parliament is discussing general restrictions on smoking ideally one would not expect smokers' freedoms to increase. But since 1994 when the idea was first proposed nothing has changed. The latest result was also predictable and, considering the length of the debate, quite fascinating. The surest way to topple a law is to weigh it down with supplementary motions, the more ridiculous the better. … Yet the simple rule should apply that any law can be agreed if the will to do so is strong enough, even when it comes to something as complicated as the sentence: 'Smoking is not permitted in bars'. … The law is dead for this legislative period. To be continued after the next election.”