A common (and a bit stupid) “joke” in Hungary is that “no smoking” means in fact: “do not enter in a dinner jacket”. (Hungarians use “szmoking” to mean “dinner jacket”). Yeah, Hungarians were liable to ignore even those signs forbidding smoking explicitly and nobody didn’t really care either, not even the authorities.
Well, I lived in England when the smokefree laws came into force in 2007 there and I remember people grumbling about not being able to smoke inside pubs. On the other hand, having never smoked in my life, I myself was quite content that tobacco smoke was suddenly pretty much gone wherever I went to. I’d say people got used to the strict restrictions on smoking quickly enough. I visited Hungary often and, to say the least, I wasn’t pleased when I had to breathe in smokey air in public places in Hungary. I really wished Hungary would do the very same as the UK regarding smoking in public but I thought it was fat chance. Then Fidesz won a landslide victory in 2010 and I moved home at the end of 2011. And soon the Orbán-government introduced a similarly strict, if not stricter, anti-smoking law from the January of 2012 than the British one! First I was quite sceptical if it would be effective and enforced, I thought it would be watered down in the end and I did expect a quite big outcry. To my astonishment, there wasn’t really much at all! After a few month transitory period, when I could still see some people were not taking the ban too seriously, I could see less and less violations. I guess the hefty fines convinced the owners of pubs, cafes and restaurants that they’d better enforce the smokefree laws. Or maybe just common sense? Now I cannot remember when I saw someone smoking in a forbidden place in Hungary last time but I don’t think it was this year. I must say I’m pretty impressed.
So Prime Minister Orbán, or in fact Hungary and Hungarians for the above reasons, as he himself emphasized, well deserved this anti-smoking WHO award:
Ah, according to a recent survey, while 28 percent of the adult population used to smoke on a daily basis in 2012, this ratio dropped to 19 percent in 2013. Not bad, eh?
- Orbanization of Europe and the Hungarian disease (politicsinhungary.wordpress.com)
- Gov’t measures drastically reduce smoking, says gov’t official (politics.hu)