Noise complaints skyrocket

The anti-smoking has led to increased street noise

Right after the new anti-smoking regulations took effect at midnight on May 30–31 the municipal police noticed a large increase in complaints about people disturbing the peace.

The new law prevents smoking inside pubs and restaurants, and as a result of people now smoke outside on the street in front of such establishments. But the city has long had noise restrictions in place, especially after 10 pm.

The complaints were usually called in by witnesses, but in some case the pub staff made complaints. A typical night will see about 30 complaints. On the night of Thursday, June 1, there were 63 complaints, or more than double the average.

There have also been complaints about the smell of smoke coming from the street into people's windows. Police spokeswoman Irena Seifertová said that not all of the complaints were related to the new law, as there was also exceptionally warm weather that caused people to be outside.

The city, however, is not intending to use special anti-smoking patrols, but instead, will deal with the situation with police already performing the standard street patrols.

The ban covers more than just pubs and restaurants. It also extends to movie theaters, concert venues, exhibition halls and indoor sports settings, which are not allowed to have separate smoking areas.

Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček (ČSSD) spent three years trying to get the law passed. Most countries in the European Union have similar restrictions.

Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD) said that the law brings the Czech Republic up to the same level as civilized countries regarding protecting the health of its citizens. He also said when the law passed that it shows that the Czech Republic put its citizens ahead of commercial interests.

Some three out of four people in the Czech Republic favor a smoking ban. Only 28 percent of Czech people smoke, which about four percentage points higher than the EU average. Bills to ban smoking in restaurants and pubs had been proposed before. The previous attempt in May 2016 failed to gain enough support due to a provision requiring pubs to sell a non-alcoholic beverage cheaper than the cheapest alcoholic beverage.

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