THE SLOVAK Parliament approved on February 17 a watered down version of an amendment to the law on protection of non-smokers which will become effective on April 1. The amendment got the backing of 111 lawmakers in the 150-member parliament, the SITA newswire reported.
The amended law does not introduce a complete ban on smoking in bars and restaurants or other public places in Slovakia. There will be no restrictions on smoking in facilities where only drinks, and no meals, are served. The opposition failed in its proposal to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants, despite the support of Health Minister Richard Raši.
Instead, owners of restaurants and pubs in which both meals and drinks are served are required to separate the smoking and non-smoking sections by a wall. They must complete any needed reconstruction work by September 1, 2009. The non-smoking section must cover at least one-half of the facility’s area and be situated at the entrance.
There are several other positive aspects of the amendment, according to Minister Raši, as reported by SITA. These include: a ban on the sale of tobacco products from vending machines; a ban on smoking in cinemas, in theatres, and the entire premises of office buildings; a ban on smoking at public transport stops and within a radius of four meters of them; the right of police officers to fine smokers who violate the law; and the duty of police to inform the public where they can complain about undisciplined smokers.
The revised law permits imposing a fine ranging from €331 to €3,319 for the sale of tobacco products to people under 18 and prohibits the sale of tobacco products in schools.
The ban on smoking will also apply to the premises of hospitals and health-care facilities. A person smoking at a bus stop or on a railway platform can be fined by railway police and municipal police. The changes, except for the duty to wall-off a separate non-smoking section, will take effect on April 1.