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Czech report Czech report
by Euro Reporter
2010-06-25 11:43:39
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Anti-smoking legislation

Restaurateurs bar owners and anti-tobacco groups have slammed new anti-smoking legislation, saying it merely legitimizes and enforces existing practices. The new law, which will come into effect July 1, will mean restaurants and bars will have to display a sticker on their entrances indicating whether they are smoking or non-smoking establishments. In addition, venues that designate themselves as smoking will be able to set up non-smoking areas - on the condition that the area is enclosed.

"These new rules are absurd, because they only legalize something that already exists," said Jorge Zúniga Pavlov, owner and general manager of La Casa Blů, a Spanish-themed bar in Old Town that went smoke-free last year. "Each pub, bar or café can already choose [whether to be smoking or non-smoking] when they are established. The majority of establishments will stick with the changes, because the owners are afraid and have the erroneous idea that customers who smoke are more important."
Doctor and anti-smoking campaigner Eva Králíková meanwhile says the new laws were an "unnecessary" step. "There are plenty of good things in this amendment, but when it comes to smoking in restaurants, the law is virtually useless," she said. "People can go into a designated smoking area or outside the restaurant and bar and still light up. The printing of stickers is unnecessary as it doesn't really deal with the issue."

The Czech Republic lags behind its West European and global counterparts. Smoking is banned in restaurants, cafés, bars and nightclubs in countries like England, Sweden, Northern Ireland and Italy. Meanwhile, in some countries like Australia, the United States and Ireland, it is also illegal to smoke in some outdoor public places.


ODS Němcova is lower house chairwoman

The Czech Chamber of Deputies elected Miroslava Nemcova (Civic Democrats, ODS) its new chairwoman in a secret vote at its constituent session Thursday. Nemcova received 118 votes in the 200-seat parliament, which means that she was probably supported by all deputies of the centre-right coalition of the ODS, TOP 09 and Public Affairs (VV). Her rival, Social Democrat (CSSD) deputy head Lubomir Zaoralek, gained 79 votes, Chamber election committee chairman Jan Vidim (ODS) announced. Three of the votes cast were therefore invalid.

In the past election term, both Nemcova and Zaoralek were Chamber deputy heads. Nemcova is well-acquainted with the operation of the Chamber as she has been its deputy since 1998. She was recently elected ODS first deputy chairwoman and is one of the supporters and close cooperators of fresh ODS chairman Petr Necas, possible future prime minister. After her election Nemcova told the deputies that she would like the Chamber of Deputies to be a place of tolerance and cooperation, irrespective of the expected clashes of opinions. "I'd like to strive for the lower house's style changing into correct negotiations and for the atmosphere in it becoming more decent," Nemcova told journalists.

She said she does not believe that indecent and vulgar conduct in parliament could be changed by fining the culprits, as VV has proposed. Decent behaviour should be automatic, she said. As head of the Chamber of Deputies, Nemcova said she wants to strive for the Chamber handling its budget effectively. Zaoralek, whose CSSD is heading to opposition, said the filling of lower house posts should not have been part of the government-forming talks between the ODS, TOP 09 and VV.


MP Šťastný replaces Bém as Prague ODS head

The Civic Democrats'(ODS) Prague branch elected MP Boris Stastny its chairman in the small hours today, some four months ahead of the local polls in which the ODS wants to defend its position of the strongest party in the Prague Assembly. Stastny, a 40-year-old lower house deputy, was supported by 75 of 101 delegates to the Prague ODS conference.

In the post of Prague ODS head he replaces Pavel Bem, Prague mayor, who stepped down after the ODS's failure in Prague in the May 28-29 general election. For the first time in history, the ODS did not emerge victorious in Prague, its traditional stronghold. It was defeated by the new conservative party TOP 09. Observers largely ascribe this failure to the scandals, including suspected corruption, that have accompanied the ODS and its Prague leaders in the past four years when the party dominated the Prague assembly and council. To raise its chance in the October local elections, the ODS needs to present new leaders to clean its tarnished reputation, observers say.

In connection with this, the delegates approved Stastny's proposal that the Prague ODS branch deputy chairmen's mandate be cut short and end on December 15. "People have ceased to trust us...We cannot afford to do mistakes," Stastny said. The conference also elected the party local election leaders in Prague's seven election wards, one of whom will probably be proposed for the post of mayor. They are deputy mayors Marie Kousalikova, Rudolf Blazek and Pavel Klega, district mayors Petr Hana, Josef Nosek and Andrea Vlasenkova, and Prague 2 district councillor Alexandra Udzenija.

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