The Czech Republic’s reputation as a haven of liberty took a knock in May 2017 when an extensive smoking ban came into effect. The ban allows for no designated smoking rooms and no exemptions, except for shisha. A survey conducted at the end of 2017 found that 58 per cent of Czechs thought the ban was too extreme.[1] Despite an attempt by dozens of politicians to partially relax it in February 2018, it remains in place. Fines of 5,000 CZK (€185) can be imposed on individuals who break the law and the owners of venues can be fined up to 50,000 CZK (€1,850).

The introduction of the smoking ban is the main reason why the Czech Republic loses its crown to Germany as the most liberal EU country in the 2019 Nanny State Index. Otherwise, however, it remains a largely free country when it comes to lifestyle. E-cigarettes can be advertised within the confines of EU law and vaping is only prohibited in a limited number of public places such as airports and public transport. There are no taxes on vape juice, food or soft drinks, and alcohol advertising is largely unrestricted except in some outdoor areas (eg. outside schools).

Taxes on beer and spirits are well below average for an EU country and there is no wine duty at all. There are no national restrictions on when bars and restaurants can stop serving alcohol.

Tobacco taxes, adjusted for income, are the second lowest in the EU. Cigarettes can be displayed in shops and bought from vending machines but the sale of alcohol from vending machines was banned in 2018.

With thanks to Peter Kotka

[1] https://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/poll-most-czechs-want-easing-of-smoking-ban

About

The Nanny State Index (NSI) is a league table of the worst places in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape. The initiative was launched in March 2016 and was a media hit right across Europe. It is masterminded and led by IEA’s Christopher Snowdon with partners from all over Europe.

Enquiries: info@epicenternetwork.eu

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About the Editor

Christopher Snowdon is the head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs. His research focuses on lifestyle freedoms, prohibition and policy-based evidence. He is a regular contributor to the Spectator Health blog and often appears on TV and radio discussing social and economic issues.

Snowdon’s work encompasses a diverse range of topics including ‘sin taxes’, state funding of charities, happiness economics, ‘public health’ regulation, gambling and the black market. Recent publications include ‘Drinking, Fast and Slow’‘The Proof of the Pudding: Denmark’s Fat Tax Fiasco’‘The Crack Cocaine of Gambling?’‘The Wages of Sin Taxes’‘Drinking in the Shadow Economy’‘Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why’ and ‘Closing Time: Who’s killing the British pub?’. He is also the author of ‘Selfishness, Greed and Capitalism’ (2015), ‘The Art of Suppression’ (2011), ‘The Spirit Level Delusion’ (2010), ‘Velvet Glove, Iron Fist’ (2009) and Killjoys (2017).


Czech Republic 2019

The Czech Republic’s reputation as a haven of liberty took a knock in May 2017 when an extensive smoking ban came into effect. The ban allows for no designated smoking rooms and no exemptions, except for shisha. A survey conducted at the end of 2017 found that 58 per cent of Czechs thought the ban was too extreme.[1] Despite an attempt by dozens of politicians to partially relax it in February 2018, it remains in place. Fines of 5,000 CZK (€185) can be imposed on individuals who break the law and the owners of venues can be fined up to 50,000 CZK (€1,850).

The introduction of the smoking ban is the main reason why the Czech Republic loses its crown to Germany as the most liberal EU country in the 2019 Nanny State Index. Otherwise, however, it remains a largely free country when it comes to lifestyle. E-cigarettes can be advertised within the confines of EU law and vaping is only prohibited in a limited number of public places such as airports and public transport. There are no taxes on vape juice, food or soft drinks, and alcohol advertising is largely unrestricted except in some outdoor areas (eg. outside schools).

Taxes on beer and spirits are well below average for an EU country and there is no wine duty at all. There are no national restrictions on when bars and restaurants can stop serving alcohol.

Tobacco taxes, adjusted for income, are the second lowest in the EU. Cigarettes can be displayed in shops and bought from vending machines but the sale of alcohol from vending machines was banned in 2018.

With thanks to Peter Kotka

[1] https://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/poll-most-czechs-want-easing-of-smoking-ban

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