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This affects all bars and restaurants, as well as offices and retail spaces. While it was already not allowed to smoke at public transit stops in 2011, this addition to legislation seeks to enforce a healthier environment in previously smoke filled dining areas.
As a smoker I’m quite partial to a cigarette during my outings to any local bar, a good Czech or Hungarian beer always goes hand in hand with a cigarette in my opinion. No doubt I am opposed to this bureaucratic move from Euro zone leaders. I stand by the fact that no hard evidence has been presented on the negative effects of second hand smoke, nor does any lack of research mean that second hand smoke is harmful.
Several years ago in Prague, Czech Republic. the government enforced a similar ban on smoking. What happened was, nothing changed. Public pressure forced the legislation to amend tough restrictions and lighten the load by allowing bar and restaurant owners to request a permit if clear smoking and non smoking areas were separated and defined. I fielded opinions from the ex-pat community. The general opinion was divided on the issue. Non smokers commented they liked a smoke free environment but some added that it should be the choice of the establishment to allow smoking and not government mandated.
I fail to see how this ban will change anything in Budapest, or even how it will be enforced. As before in other European cities, business will suffer slightly from lost revenue when smokers go elsewhere. The tough legislation is hard enough to monitor and enforce, let alone punish establishments and effectively stunt economic growth even further. This no doubt will lead to mounting public pressure from business owners to relax the restrictions. Nothing changed in Prague except a few restaurants created non smoking areas. Most bars and restaurants still allowed smoking.
Likewise in Budapest, I foresee the law being relaxed in the coming months and hope that restaurants and bars be allowed to apply for exemption permits if their livelihood and business profits become affected.
What are your thoughts on smoking in Budapest?