Czech Republic - crackdown on tobacco use long way off..

January 25, 2010 - Finland made international headlines recently with news that its government plans to completely eradicate smoking – not just a ban on smoking in public places, that already exists, but the total and final eradication of smoking amongst the Finnish population. (Finland - anti-smoking bill will end smoking altogether..) The Czech Republic, however, like most former communist states, seems to be trailing behind.

Around a quarter of all Czechs – 2.5 million people - are smokers, addicted to a drug that will eventually kill one in five of them at huge expense to the state.

Dr Eva Králíková, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Treatment Centre in Prague, is concerned about the effects of passive smoking, and is disappointed that new legislation due to enter into force in July falls short of a total ban on smoking in pubs, cafes and restaurants. She says even the law’s provision that non-smoking areas must be separated with a wall does not go far enough.

Smoking is already banned on trains, trams and buses, and is increasingly rare in the workplace. But pubs, restaurants and cafes are still overwhelmingly smoker-friendly. From July 1st they’ll be obliged to put a sticker on the door to say whether the establishment is smoking, non-smoking or mixed with a separate smoke-free room. Analysts predict that most will choose the first option, in a bid not to lose customers.

But for many Czechs attempts to eradicate smoking is part of a crusade by interfering busy-bodies, egged on by health fascists in Brussels. Anti-smoking campaigners suspect the powerful tobacco industry is behind the failed attempts to introduce a total smoking ban. A leading Czech newspaper claimed recently that representatives of three international cigarette companies actually work as assistants to MPs (members of parliament).

To hear audio version of this report: Finnish-style crackdown long way off in Czech smokers' paradise, Rob Cameron, Radio Praha, 1/21/2010.

Czech Republic and Tobacco Use - Series of audios:
Smoke in the face of Czech anti-tobacco campaigners, Chris Johnstone, Radio Praha, 6/11/2009.
Czechs rank among worst when it comes to number of teens lighting up, Jan Velinger, 5/6/2009.
Czech teenagers top European tables in substance abuse survey, Rob Cameron, Radio Praha, 1/10/2009.
Czech Republic failing to curb smoking, Dominik Jůn, Radio Praha, 5/27/2008.

Related news brief:
Czech Republic - new penal code weakens laws against illegal cigartte production..;
Czech Republic - pubs and restaurants allow smoking or Do NOT allow smoking..;
Czech children worst in cigarette smoking in world..;
Czech Republic - Philip Morris profits dropping 2-years in a row..