Czech smoking ban favored by large majority

A survey shows that the ban is still popular after one year

Some 71 percent of Czechs support the ban on smoking in restaurants, which has been in effect for about one year. The ban is opposed by 12 percent of people, according to a survey of the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University made in cooperation with the Ipsos agency.

People also go to restaurants more often than three years ago, according to the survey. Traffic has increased mainly due to customers who rarely went in the past, mostly non-smokers.

There has been an effort in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Parliament, to weaken some aspects of the law.

The survey found that about a quarter of people smoke in the Czech Republic. “Twenty-eight percent of smokers are strongly opposed to not smoking in restaurants,” Ipsos Central Europe director Radek Jalůvka said at a press conference.

Smokers are more aware of the fact that lit cigarettes restrict the freedom of non-smokers. While 28 percent of smokers recognized this six years ago, the share has risen to 41 percent this year.

The drop in consumption of draft beer reported by breweries seems to be unrelated to the smoking ban. Instead, younger drinkers prefer other beverages.

Some 7 percent responded that they consumed a little more beer than a year ago. More than four-fifths of respondents said they were consuming the same amount of beer as a year ago, 11 percent consumed less. Beer is also replaced by wine or non-alcoholic beverages. “Generation Z is not so hot to drink beer,” Jalůvka said, referring to people born since the second half of the 1990s.

Most people going to restaurants are worried about poor service and low-quality food and drink. But 44 percent of smokers are bothered by the inability to light up.

The survey, which had 1,080 respondents, did not focus on the different perceptions of the ban in villages and large cities. however, according to earlier research, no big difference had been found.

Another study by Ipsos for the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Crafts (AMSP ČR), which includes operators of 301 restaurants and bars, shows that 21 percent of operators worry about the smoking ban, and 8 percent intend to help with lifting the ban. The agency will publish the full results later.

ODS deputy Marek Benda is the main force behind efforts to roll back the ban. He wants an amended law that would allow operators of smaller pubs and bars to decide whether to be smoking or nonsmoking. He also wants to allow separate smoking areas is restaurants, theaters, cinemas, cultural facilities and sports venues.

The amendment would also abolish holding servers responsible for giving alcohol to an adult who then causes damage due to intoxication.

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