Czech Republic: Pubs and restaurants go smoke free

A smoking ban in Czech bars, pubs and restaurants took effect on Wednesday at midnight. Already in December, Czech’s lower house of parliament approved some of the strictest cigarette-use laws in the European Union.

As the Czech Republic is also the country with the highest per-capita beer consumption in the world, breweries and pub-owners fear now a sharp decline like in other countries with a smoking ban. For instance since Germany implemented similar laws in 2007, 1 out of 5 bars closed its doors forever. The yearly per-capita beer consumption in Germany decreased from 116.0 liters in 2006, the last year without smoking ban to 104.1 liters last year (-17.4%).

Czech’s consume in average stunning 140 liters of beer annually and 40% of all beer consumed is draught beer. Both figures are world record.

Even the most optimistic know that the new laws will have a negative effect on alcohol consumption, mainly beer, as passionate pub-goers and beer drinkers are often smokers.

While the direct related industry is strictly against the rules, many Czech’s welcome the new legislation.  Polls show a support of three in four Czechs in favor of the smoking ban. Many politicians also want to be the spearhead of the movement, like Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

He said in December, after the bill passed the lower house of parliament: "This brings the Czech Republic (in line with) civilized countries that care for the health of their citizens."

17 of the 28 EU member states have implemented far-reaching laws to ban smoking in public places.

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