PRAGUE — City officials are considering installing ashtrays on sidewalks across the historic centre of the Czech capital now that a ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and cafes has forced an army of smokers and their trail of cigarette butts onto the streets.
The Czech Republic in May became one of the last remaining countries in the European Union to pass an indoor smoking ban. Business owners feared revenue losses, while advocates for the ban stressed its impact on public health.
Since then, city officials said they’ve received an uptick in noise and litter complaints regarding sidewalk smokers — spurring Prague to test a plan to build ashtrays in the pavement..
“I think the ashtray might help, and people might use it,” said Borivoj Kopečný, the manager of Hany Bany Cafe Bar where city officials have installed the test pavement ashtray.
Prague’s public cleaning service, TSK, installed the program’s sole ashtray, which is embedded in the pavement to provide smokers with a place to discard cigarette butts through a grate.
The program is also part of a wider city response to complaints following implementation of the smoking ban, said Richard Bureš, deputy mayor of Prague 1.
The city has also designated two cleaning machines to target the most affected places and the city is considering adding ashtrays to city trash bins to help stamp out the litter, Bures said..
Officials added it would take a year to evaluate whether the pilot program will work and Bures pointed out that it was not a cure-all for the city’s cigarette butt problem.
“I don’t know whether the ashtray is going to help,” Bureš said. “But every try is worth it.”
Story and photos by Lynda Gonzalez, Mariya Redzhova, Lidiia Akryshora and Kiril Sceblykin at the Journey: Journalism Bootcamp 2017 organized by the Bakala Foundation.