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Budapest smoking ban

Budapest public smoking ban in effect 1st January 2012

image by future-proofFollowing many other European cities, Budapest joined the ranks of influential capitals on the 1st January this year and enforced a public smoking ban in all enclosed public spaces.

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?

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3 comments on “Budapest smoking ban

  1. Gerard
    January 6, 2012

    Just wondered how the ban was being enforced, if at all. I like to have a cigar with a drink and it’s much more comfortable indoors.
    Am coming to Budapest for my third visit in February and hoping not to have to go outside.

    • hungryexpat
      January 6, 2012

      Hi Gerard.

      You can be fined on the spot for up to 30,000 HUF, which is around £100. Your best option is to find an outside terrace seating area which may allow smoking in front of the bar or restaurant. Some places may have relaxed rules. Its mighty cold outside at the moment though.

  2. dundee
    May 29, 2012

    at last.
    i have avoided to go to budapest for my casino trips because i smell like hell and feel it in me for a week after.
    now i will happily take a trip to budapest.

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This entry was posted on January 3, 2012 by in Uncategorized.

Logo image by Lora Rajah under creative commons license.

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