Despite the Polish government's preparations for banning smoking in all public places smoking restrictions are not yet as widespread as in Great Britain, for example. Generally it is forbidden to smoke in public places such as railways stations, airports, department stores, shops, any forms of public transportation (except separate places for smokers in trains), cinemas, waiting rooms, bus stops (nobody respects that), banks and all places of a similar public nature. Any violation of the above restrictions can lead to a fine or ejection from the premises by security, or both.
Smoking is allowed in restaurants, summer gardens, pubs and clubs if not marked no smoking zone. There are always tables for smokers and non smokers and this rule is usually complied with. And it should! We are expecting a complete ban on smoking in public places soon. Most likely in 2008. But this is going to be very difficult to conform to by many of our heavy smoking citizens.
Drinking alcohol (including beer) is forbidden in public places except special areas in restaurant summer gardens. The fine for drinking alcohol in a bus is 100 zł and is higher in other public places if you are apprehended. If you are very drunk, violent or disturbing the peace and are arrested by the police you will be fined and put in a cell to sleep off your drunkenness. This will not save you a night in a hotel as this police service is rather expensive and you will be charged for your night in police custody.
Drinking is strictly prohibited in parks, the surroundings of night shops and railways stations. We advise you strongly to respect these regulations. Polish police are not known for their subtle and delicate ways.
Drinking alcoholic beverages is one of the things that Poles do and like to do and are good at. There is a German joke which says that that 2,5 ml of alcohol in the blood is fatal but this rule does not apply to Poles and Russians. Is this really a joke, or is it true? We are not going to try to convince you either way. What is true is that most Polish people like to have a tipple or more now and then, we're not prudes, we admit it. Small amounts or relatively larger volumes are drunk at most social gatherings in Poland. Polish people enjoy themselves at weddings, anniversaries, birthdays or names day parties and other occasions that bring friends and family together. This alcoholic consumption lubricates the evening and breaks down the barriers of contact amongst strangers or family members who haven't met since the last wedding or funeral. People drink to enjoy themselves, to dance and be merry. And it is so the world over, though at times in Poland it seems that there is a frenzy in this consumption, a willingness to go further than is really necessary to enjoy the moment. Wine and beer flows, and sometimes not in moderation.
It has been a scourge as well down through the years, when it is an escape from the problems of the world for certain people. It becomes the darker side, the harder side of life.
When youngsters take to drink, when it leads to violence. It can bring out the worst in people. Binge drinking, uncontrolled consumption the goal of which is total inebriation is a popular pastime amongst certain parts of our younger society. Mix alcohol and a crowd of football supporters and you have a problem. Stupid people and alcohol are a volatile mix and explosive cocktail. So what's the solution? Avoid these situations. Have a drink but in moderation. Don't drink and drive. Appreciate don't depreciate. But above all enjoy the occasion because it probably won't happen again.
If you come to Poland, or should we say, when you come to Poland, you might, or then again, you will be invited to a Polish celebration, be it wedding, christening or any other excuse to… celebrate you will realize that this is the perfect occasion to meet other Polish people during a convivial and sometimes boisterous occasion. If there is anything that the Poles know better then it's, how to have a good time. You will never see as much food in one night, so pace yourself; you will be getting bigos and a fattened roasted pig at three in the morning, plus soup and salads. The tables will heave with food, you will be tempted, and the wine and beer and all other kinds of refreshments will flow. And with it that great Polish hospitality, that meeting of people, of friends and family, of history and tradition. And in the morning, well you can sleep it off, if you have overindulged. Sometimes you have to. As they say, you only live once, and in Poland it can be to the hilt!
- The sale of cigarettes and alcohol to under 18 year old people is strictly forbidden.
- 0,2 m alcoholic content in blood is the permitted upper limit for driving. Take note. One beer and you are over the limit. Driving when under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offence. So Don't Drink and Drive!
Updated May 2009