Ombudsman backs anti-smoking bill

Budapest, March 6 (MTI) – Hungary’s ombudsman for future generations said he supported plans for new anti-smoking legislation.

The right to a healthy life must receive priority over business interests, Sandor Fulop said in a statement sent to MTI on Sunday.

Fulop gave warning that after the legislation is introduced, strong monitoring will be necessary to make sure that the law is observed.

Recent press reports said the planned legislation to ban smoking in cafes and restaurants in Hungary is expected to reduce budget revenues by at least 32.5 billion forints (EUR 118.6m) this year. If the proposal is approved by parliament, a further loss of up to 58.5 billion in excise tax revenues is also expected.

It remains to be seen how Hungarians with a strong smoking culture respond to the changes. Some analysts have estimated alcohol consumption would drop by 7-14 percent on average if smoking was banned in pubs and restaurants.

On Friday, Tamas Heintz and other deputies of the governing Fidesz party submitted a proposal to ban smoking in all indoor public areas, such as restaurants and cafes, workplaces and public transport. The ban is planned to come into force in July 2011.