Since it was enacted nearly one year ago, the Czech smoking ban has been one of the country’s most hotly-contested laws.
Currently, smoking is prohibited in all restaurants, pubs, and other public venues with few exceptions. Prague’s main airport, which previously contained smoking lounges, has gone smoke-free as of this month.
But a new bill making the rounds in Czech parliament could change the blanket ban.
Prepared by Marek Benda (ODS), the new bill would allow small restaurants and bars – under 80 square meters in size – to declare themselves as smoking venues.
The new proposal is seen as an effort to preserve the traditional Czech pub, which many fear is an endangered species under the current smoking ban. It has been signed by 86 members of parliament, with others indicating that they will also support it.
Approval by the Czech Chamber of Deputies is a formality, according to iDnes.cz, with a total of 101 votes needed for the bill to pass. The proposal expected to soon move to the upper Senate.
There, too, it has support. The server reached out to all 81 Czech senators, 59 of whom replied. A total of 26 were in favor of the new proposal, with 24 against and 9 undecided.
“I’m not for excessive bans, it’s counterproductive,” Senator Milada Emmerová (CSSD) – a former physician – told iDnes.cz.
While numerous proposals to amend the Czech smoking ban have been floated since it went into effect last year, Benda’s seems to have stronger support. Expect to hear more about it in the coming weeks.