November 12, 2010 - Poland will become the 11th EU member state to ban indoor smoking in areas of work, following in the footsteps of the United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, Holland, France, Italy, Slovenia, Latvia, Sweden, Finland and Bulgaria. The law is the result of an EU initiative that seeks to ban smoking within the EU in workplaces by 2012.
On November 15 Poland will implement a ban on smoking in all public places, including hotels, pubs, clubs, restaurants, sporting venues, workplaces, trains, children's playgrounds and even in company cars.
The national smoking ban in Poland was voted into the law registry on 14 May by the Sejm (Poland’s lower house of parliament) after undergoing a series of revisions. It goes into effect after six months in the law registry, on 15 November 2010. The first version was a complete ban on indoor smoking in workplaces; the fourth version, which passed with 217 votes for, 165 against, and 48 withheld, allows for smoking exceptions in designated, enclosed areas.
The ban will not be total. Owners of venues larger than 100 sqm will be able to set aside a separate room for smokers. However, such a room must have its own ventilation and must be totally separate so that no smoke permeates into the rest of the establishment. Moreover, smoking rooms will be reserved for smoking only, which means food may not be served in them.
Unsurprisingly, most clubs and restaurants have chosen to forgo the expense of setting aside a smoking area.
Reaction from pubs and clubs to the looming ban have been mixed. Kafe Kulturalna, a popular bar in Warsaw, banned smoking on its own volition during the summer. “Nobody complained. Turnover hasn't fallen” the bar's manger Jakub Paluch told Metro. However, Gazeta Wyborcza reports that the Warsaw student club, Indeks, put up a sign that read “Indeks is against the ban on smoking tobacco in bars.”
The penalty for lighting up where it is prohibited is claimed to be a 500 złoty (173.71 USD) instant fine for the smoker. Business owners will be fined 2,000 złoty (694.83 USD) for failing to display information about the smoking ban in their venue or vehicle.
References: No smoking in Poland by Alexander Hayes, Warsaw Business Journal, 11/10/2010; Smoking Ban Economics, Agnes Sekowski, KrakowPost.com, 11/9/2010.
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