Anti-smoking law may be weakened

Some politicians want to re-open the new law for 'fine-tuning'

The new anti-smoking law will likely be weakened, as some shortcomings have been found, according to some politicians. The law has been in effect for almost three months.

Human Rights Minister Jan Chvojka (ČSSD) said he was in a restaurant with an outdoor garden but smoking was banned outside due to a technicality.

“I have no problem admitting that things were overlooked,” Chvojka told daily Mladá fronta Dnes. “I encountered a problem in a restaurant where they have a great pergola. It cannot be smoked under because it is a solid construction. We haven't fine tuned the law; I want to change that.” A pergola is a usually wooden structure covered with vines and plants.

It is unlikely the changes will be made ahead of the October elections. Chvojka, who is also in the Chamber of Deputies, is running in the top spot on Social Democrat ticket in the Pardubice region and is likely to be re-elected.

Chvojka has some support. Parliament member Martin Plíšek (TOP 09), a former Deputy Health Minister, also supports the change. “There are things in the law that will have to be repaired in the future," he told MfD. “I would not care if an outdoor garden is covered or not. If there is ventilation on three sides, it is something other than a closed restaurant.”

Re-opening the law to discussion might bring more changes. Parliament member Marek Benda (ODS), who was a strong opponent of the law before it passed, has a list of changes he would like to push through, including creating smoking rooms in cinemas and theaters. “It is nonsense that there can't be a smoking room,” he said previously. The idea for separate rooms was rejected when the law was passed.

But some politicians would like to see the law made even tougher. Parliament member Rom Kostřica (TOP 09) would like to see it made illegal to smoke in a car with children inside. He also opposed making an exemption for covered gardens unless there is a space reserved for nonsmokers.

The ban on smoking in pubs, restaurants and other public spaces took effect May 31. It has led to an increase in noise complaints as people now smoke on the sidewalks in front of pubs.

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