In June 2015, the Czech government unanimously approved a new draft act on health protection against the harmful effects of addictive substances (“the Act”). The Act, which aims to improve the protection against the negative effects of addictive substances such as alcohol and tobacco, has been now submitted to the Czech parliament for discussion. It has been proposed that the Act will be effective from 1 January 2016.
The most important social, health (and perhaps economic) effect of the new Act is the ban on smoking, with no exceptions, in all indoor restaurant facilities such as restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc. The ban applies not only to conventional cigarettes but also to electronic cigarettes, which have significantly gained in popularity in the recent years, as well as to hookahs (“water pipe”) tobacco smoking. Any breach of this ban may be penalised with a fine of up to CZK 5,000 (i.e. approx. EUR 180) for the smoker and up to CZK 50,000 (i.e. approx. EUR 1,800) for the restaurant facility.
Furthermore, the Act bans the sale of tobacco products (and other related products) in healthcare facilities, schools and school facilities and other facilities with children and, at the same time, tightens the conditions for the sale tobacco products through vending machines and online. The Act allows the sale of tobacco products via vending machines only if the vendor is able to ensure (by any means) that only persons over 18 years of age will be able to purchase the products. With regards to internet selling, the vendors will be obliged to operate through a computer programme which is able to verify the buyers’ age.
The Act also includes various restrictions regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol. Most notably, all restaurant facilities and kiosks will be obliged to have at least one non-alcoholic drink on their menu cheaper than an alcoholic drink of a similar volume. This measure is aimed at a typical phenomenon in many Czech restaurants where beer is often cheaper than water.
The draft of the Act must still be passed by Parliament and be signed by the President before it will come into legal force and be effective. As previous attempts in the Czech Republic to introduce a smoking ban in the restaurants have failed and although the current proposal seemingly has large support in the Czech Parliament, there is still a possibility that the draft Act will not be adopted or that the scope of the ban will be changed.