New Law Snags Smoking

KIEV, Ukraine -- Beginning on July 1, a law curtailing the amount of smoking allowed in public places came into full force in Ukraine, requiring restaurants, bars and other buildings openly accessible to the public to have designated non-smoking sections by this time.


Many foreign restaurant chains have taken steps that bring them in line with this new legislation although at this moment in time it is difficult for businesses to gauge the effect on business in the long term. The new law requires that at least 50 percent of public places must be designated for non-smokers, in such a way that smoke does not drift into these areas.

A public place is any building or structure that is openly accessible to the public either by invitation or through payment of services, all or part of the time. This also pertains to entrances to buildings, city underpasses and stadiums.

Some bars, clubs and restaurants, like those in the Happy Days Group, have had to introduce new non-smoking sections. Other restaurants like Il Patio and TGI Fridays, part of a single group of restaurants located in Kyiv, have had separate non-smoking sections and high-quality ventilation systems since opening in 2002.

According to Vasyl Kovach, director of Il Patio’s city-center restaurant, this means that they have not had to make serious changes to comply with the new legislation. According to Christoff Letorte, a French chef at Limoncello Fusion, the Happy Days Group of restaurants, which includes Limoncello, and also Shooters Bar, Terrace, Harem and Walter’s Pizzeria, has designated new non-smoking areas.

“Not everything is done yet, but we expect all the changes to be completed within the next few days for all the restaurants in our group… In Limoncello, for instance, we’ve added no-smoking signs to the tables, half of which are non-smoking, and designated the non-smoking area closest to the window where there is better ventilation.” He added that other restaurants in the group have taken similar measures.

“Even Shooters club should be ok,” he added, “because it has a very good ventilation system that shouldn’t need to be upgraded.”

Ihor Nosenko, a spokesman for the popular O’Briens Irish Pub, said that in their case just a few changes would have to be made, but that for them it’ll be business as usual.

“O’Briens has had separate smoking and non-smoking sections since it opened in 1998… we’ll have to expand the [non-smoking] area a little bit, but we have a very effective ventilation system, that was put in from the very beginning for our clients,” Nosenko said.

When asked whether or not Ukrainian’s (and ex-pats for that matter) will smoke less as a result, Nosenko, a non-smoker himself, said that remains to be seen, adding that “if these kinds of efforts have worked in other countries and people started smoking less, than maybe we’ll see similar results in Ukraine.”

Limoncello’s Letorte, a smoker himself, added that these regulations are essentially bringing Ukraine’s restaurant and bar culture into line with European norms and that they should also markedly improve the overall dining experience in restaurants throughout the city.

“I am French, and in France most of the restaurants are half smoking, half non-smoking… moreover, in Italy a large number of restaurants are completely non-smoking… This should not only be better for [Ukrainian] customers, who won’t have ash trays cluttering the tables, and will also improve their overall health.”

In Europe it is common practice for smoking to be allowed only at the bar, he added, as another example.

Letorte added that these changes are especially positive for non-smokers, because they often choose not to go out to clubs or restaurants as they are too smoky. But as a chef, he also noted that for smokers this should enhance their restaurant experience, “because smoke affects the palette and a person’s ability to taste the food fusion.”

Nonetheless, the Frenchman believes that if the Ukrainian government’s legislation aims to curb smoking, the most expedient way to do that is to increase the tax on cigarettes.

“In France cigarettes cost 5 euros, which is 13 times more expensive than cigarettes in Ukraine… It would be good for the government to do this [increase the taxes on cigarettes], he said.

These efforts on the part of the Ukrainian government are not driven by a desire to bring the country’s restaurant, nightclub and cafe culture into line with European standards, but part of a larger initiative to reduce the amount of cigarette and alcohol consumption in Ukraine.

The new smoking law also outlaws the sale of cigarettes to minors under the age of 18 and restricts smoking in the workplace and public places to specially designated areas.

In effect, this law, which came into full force this week, halved the smoking area in all of Ukraine’s public establishments. Fines will be the instrument used to enforce it.

A breach of the law by smoking in places forbidden, or in other areas determined by local city and village councils, is subject to a warning or a fine ranging from Hr 17 to Hr 85. A second offense commands a fine of Hr 85 to Hr 99.

Source: Kyiv Post

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