August 2, 2013 / 5:29 PM / 6 years ago

Czech president told to cut smoking, drinking due to health

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech President Milos Zeman, known for his love of alcohol and smoking, was told on Friday to drastically cut down on both after being diagnosed with diabetes, the health minister said.

Czech Republic President Milos Zeman smiles as he visit the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Martin Holcat, speaking on Czech Radio, said that on the advice of doctors, the president, 68, would have to cut down from his usual 40-to-50 cigarettes a day to about 20.

He also was told to sharply cut back his consumption of alcohol, his taste for which he has never kept secret in a country with the highest intake of beer per capita in the world.

“We agreed with the president that he will significantly reduce this. We talked about one deciliter (just over three ounces) of wine per day,” Holcat said in the radio interview.

“This is certainly very unpleasant, it surely did not please the president, but as I know him, he will be able to do this.”

Holcat added that Zeman could risk aggravating his condition if he did not stick to the advice.

The president, elected in the country’s first direct presidential election in January, has been locked in a power struggle with political parties in the past weeks over forming a new government.

Zeman has been known to offer journalists a shot or two of spirits during interviews. Earlier this year, his office rejected media reports that he had appeared drunk during a ceremony held to display crown jewels of the Czech kingdom.

Zeman’s favorite jokes include one about drinking but never getting drunk. He also likes to point out that Adolf Hitler was a teetotaler and lost World War Two while Winston Churchill drank and won.

There was no comment from Zeman, who has been recovering outside of Prague from dental surgery.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Michael Roddy

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