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In search of ashtrays in Budapest

Starting from January 1 it is prohibited to smoke indoors in pubs, clubs and other places of entertainment. This means three things: it’s forbidden to smoke, you’d do it better if you wouldn’t smoke or go ahead, have a cigarette. Until April 1 the places can freely choose from the above interpretations but as that fateful day passes fines will be collected. Fines from the smokers and fines from those letting them smoke.

Happy New Smokefree Year

That’s what legislation has wished Hungary and to make a point a law with a matching content was passed in effect from January 1. Still, it seems that the well-frequented places of Budapest decided to interpret the regulation of indoor smoke-stop liberally, and choose for themselves how they wish to execute it: abide or refuse. Or maybe come up with a kind of transitory solution? In spite of the concerns that have been made heard about how those not keeping to the regulation will not really be condemned, the Budapest places are quite diverse when it comes to the air-smoke ratio of what is breathed in, though not for long. Now one cannot only choose from among more and less smoky places, smoking and non-smoking areas at a particular place but completely smoke-free, completely smoke-filled and gradually clearing places, too. This is variety indeed.
Know smoking

Every empathic smoker understands that it’s not okay if other people suck (smoke) because of them. Passively, helplessly and defenselessly. Does every empathic non-smoker understands that smokers who can’t smoke because of them feel they are the ones who suck? Nope, but that’s different because smoking is harmful for everybody and everything including the smokers themselves. And if they cannot understand this, prohibition is the next step. “Deriving smokers of their rights” – complains a guest at a downtown place. There are places where it’s still the same, for example, Fogasház, Merlin, Grand Bazar, Fabrik or Mika Tivadar. These places – for the pleasure of many - let their guests smoke. As of now.
Immune system boost Places that completely forbid smoking, such as Castro, Jelen, Kiadó, Boutiq’ Bar or Katapult, maybe haven’t even realized that they not only keep themselves to the word of the law but they also wage a multi-front war for the health of their guests. Besides ensuring fresh air indoors their policy forces many outside in the cold, thus, helping them boost their immune system. ”We’ve yet to catch a cold.” – says a youngster smoking outside, who believes this situation is inconvenient and dislikes not having ashtrays outside in many cases, yet, more or less agrees with the regulation.  But why not, really? Smokers get to enjoy a little bit of fresh air next to their cigarettes.

Some managers are optimistic and not only about health considerations. They are the ones who hope that the guests absent due to the regulation will be replaced by those who avoided the places because of the ever-present smoke. Whether it will be so remains a question only time will answer, but what is certain is that where it’s really a priority the regulation can be kept to.  This is exemplified by Wichmann söröző among others, where a few weeks back you couldn’t see a thing through the smoke, and today not a single cigarette is lit. ”If the law can be abided in Wichmann, it can be everywhere.” – says a guest at 400, which is also non-smoking, by the way. At places where ashtrays are nowhere to be found and can’t even be requested for, people are asked to put out their cigarettes if they decide to smoke anyways. ”Outside you can” goes the magic word.
But places, too, have to adapt to the new situation. Clear indications and ashtrays outside are basic, but one can see really ingenious signs as well, such as one in Kiadó reading ”Reserved, be back from smoking shortly.” Who knows, we might see pubs selling nicotine gums from April.

Fine tuning

The places with outdoor areas or unheated terraces in case of good weather are in quite a good shape when it comes to smoking. For example, the mushroom heaters at Bobek do a great job at dividing the area into smokers’ and non-smokers’ territories. It’s unfortunate that in  Szimpla, for instance, where there’s a heated inner courtyard, there are some who light their cigarettes in the non-smoking area, too. ”And we, too, are able to do it. I also go out and I’m a chain smoker.” – complains one of the bartenders and goes on pleading ”Please, not here”.
Ibolya and Kelta, not unlike Gourmann, follow the principle of gradual change.  They hope that – contrary to the method of smoking one less cigarette every day than the day before, which has been deemed ineffective by many – the prolonged introduction of the prohibition will turn out to be a good decision. In practice it means that guests are noticed not to smoke and ashtrays are not provided as default, but if somebody is resolved to have a cigarette, they’ll get one. ”We’ve chosen the right path.” – says the bartender at one of the lenient places, though they cannot press it any further than April.
The cunning method of Most is that they use disposable ashtrays to signal that smoking indoors would otherwise be forbidden. This way one might feel that they’re one of those few who can’t take it. And this is a shame. Or at least there’s a bigger chance that smokers will not be angry with the place, the system or the universe but themselves.
Where the trail of smoke drifts

April Fool’s Day will end all this. We’ve got more than two months to pick places of entertainment based on what air content suits us best. Many believe this the most important factor when choosing where to party on Fridays or Saturdays or where to have the usual afternoon coffee, being dissatisfied or happy about the observation of the regulation or the lack thereof.  We can still choose: rebel or abide, follow West, smoke, go outside, catch a cold or simply choose the ideal place for ourselves. A place that’s compatible with our ways.

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