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LN: President Zeman ignores smoking bans

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Prague, May 23 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman respects smoking bans neither at home nor during his foreign trips, as exemplified by his recent journey to China from which he returned last Thursday, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today.

Zeman, a chain smoker, wanted the Czech Television (CT) director to bring an ashtray to him in January 2013 just after he was elected, when a smoking ban was already valid in its building, LN writes.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was a heavy smoker and he gave Chinese cigarettes to Zeman during his visit to China last March, it adds.

However, like the whole world, China has changed its policy and prefers intolerance of smoking, LN writes.

Within this new course, Xi decided to stop smoking last August, inspiring 300 million smokers in China, it adds.

Smoking is now banned in most internal public spaces and public transport, including hospitals, schools and stadiums in China, LN writes.

However, Zeman was not worried by the ban and smoked even at the gala dinner hosted by Xi for tens of heads of state during his latest visit, it adds.

Zeman even smoked during his flight, ignoring the ban, LN writes.

While in China, Zeman also spoke about his smoking with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“Like me, you are also a smoker, although your president bans smoking,” Zeman told Lavrov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told him that he just did not recommend smoking, LN writes.

Zeman’s love for smoking is well remembered in Britain, LN writes, quoting the information carried by the weekly Respekt.

Zeman was fined the equivalent of 60,000 crowns in a hotel in Bristol when attending the NATO summit in autumn 2014.

He lit up a cigarette in a smoking free room, LN writes.

Zeman ignores smoking bans also back home, it adds.

A photograph posted online captured him in a train full of people in 2014. He had a lit-up cigarette in his hand. It was no special presidential train, but a passenger train on its regular route. He was going to a regular meeting with the public, LN writes.

“It was a favour from the railway operator,” presidential spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said.

The Presidential Office is ready to pay for Zeman’s smoking, LN writes.

In November 2015, Zeman lit up a cigarette in a luxury, non-smoking restaurant in Brno.

This was agreed on beforehand, but not for free. The exception cost 15,000 crowns, LN writes.

As of May 31, stricter rules for smoking will take effect in the Czech Republic. The new anti-smoking law drives smokers out of all restaurants, night-clubs and cafes.

($1 = 23.557 crowns)

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