Current Affairs Study suggests broader ban would help reduce the number of underage smokers
More than half of Czechs between the ages of 18 and 22 smoke on a regular basis, lighting up in bars, restaurants and discotheques. But a new study suggests that if a strict ban were in place preventing smoking in just such establishments, many young people might avoid the habit in the first place.
Adults in the Czech Republic who smoke regularly on average tried their first cigarette at 14, a new study has found, and the numbers get worse: every second Czech at the age of 20 smokes. Conducted by students of Charles University’s Faculty of Social Sciences together with the Ipsos agency, the study also suggests that if comprehensive legislation were in place – banning smoking in drinking establishments, clubs and restaurants – the number of those who smoked would drop significantly. Out of 1,000 young people polled, many said they wouldn’t have taken up the habit at all if such a ban had been in place.
Miroslav Slíž, the head of the project at Charles Univesrity told Czech Radio more:
“Our aim was to gain objective numbers regarding young smokers and the most striking thing was that a full 30 percent, most of whom began before the age of 18, told us that if a ban had been in place, they would never have begun at all.”
That is good news for the Health Ministry and Minister Leoš Heger who is aiming to submit new plans for a broad smoking ban to the government in March. Under the proposal, smoking would no longer be allowed at all in eating and drinking establishments and would also be banned, for example, on hospital grounds – not just inside buildings. Also affected would be all playgrounds and areas surrounding schools.
Not all are convinced that such a strcit ban is necessary and a number of MPs have already signalled they will try and block any legislation they believe encroaches on individual rights or freedoms. But the government theoretically could find enough support to push through the legislation.
Others, meanwhile, suggest that the numbers in the Charles University may be overly-optimistic: addiction expert Michal Mioský of Prague’s General Teaching Hospital suggests the real impact could be difficult to gauge; nevertheless, some of the findings in the study, he made clear, were a good thing.
“This study is most interesting in this respect: it shows that among smokers there is a fairly strong group that has different opinions than one would expect. It shows – and this has been backed up by other studies as well – that there is a percentage of smokers who would use a ban as a reason to quit or seek professional help.”
How the situation develops and whether there will be broader support for a strict smoking ban amongst the country’s politicians should be clearer in March.