Prague - The number of smoke-free restaurants in Prague is likely to significantly increase. Or, at least they will bear the appropriate sign.
This is because before 1 July 2010, pubs and restaurants in the Czech Republic will have to choose one of the following three labels: smoking allowed, smoking prohibited, or mixed. The latter label is reserved for those establishment that have spaces for smokers and nonsmokers physically isolated.
New legislation says that the owners must indicate the character of their establishment visibly with a stick-on label.
Smoke in defensive
Will there be a no smoking revolution in the Czech Republic? It appears that at some places, it will. Pavel Hlinka, the president of the Czech association of hotels and restaurants, says that as much as half of Prague's establishments will choose the "no smoking" way.
Hlinka bases this estimate on discussions with members of his association. „ In bigger cities there is usually more modern attitude towards these things in comparison to the countryside," Hlinka said to Aktuálně.cz.
Director of the Czech coalition against tobacco Kateřina Langerová confirms these words.
„Since the beginning of this year, we have witnessed an increased number of no smoking establishments registering at our website. While at the beginning of the year there were roughly 600 of them, up to today we register 852 no smoking establishments all over the country," she says.
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Aktuálně.cz's poll among Prague's restaurant owners shows that low cost pubs and beer houses will opt for the "smoking allowed" way.
„The situation in the countryside and smaller cities is very different from what we see in Prague. In those zones it is safe to assume that pubs that allow smoking will be dominating in these areas for many years," says Hlinka.
Which side you are on? Both? Ok then
On the other hand, Prague's restaurants and pizzerias Aktuálně.cz has asked mostly remain undecided yet. „It is being considered, we haven't decided yet," said a manager of a pizzeria in Prague 2 district. Their establishment has spaces reserved for smokers and non smokers, but they are not physically separated as obliged by the legislation.
From the point of view of the restaurant and pub owners, the legislation is very benevolent. They don't even have to ban smoking at the times people have breakfasts, lunches and dinners - which used to be a commonplace even shortly after the fall of the Communist regime in 1989.
In fact the only real change the legislation brings is the obligation to indicate the establishment with one of the three labels.
Most other European countries have already adapted a significantly stricter anti-smoking bills aimed above all at reducing passive smoking.