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Croatia smoking ban kicks off

13th April 2010

Authorities in Croatia have revamped the country's anti-tobacco laws.

smokingbar1

The new law bans smoking in public places like bars, restaurants, hospitals, clinics, schools and universities.

The same ban was lifted about half a year ago, when a grace period for the country's establishments began.

But now that the grace period is over, public places all over Croatia must begin to adhere to the new law.

The strict anti-smoking law has had a dramatic impact upon business owners, whose establishments have seen progressively fewer customers as a result of the ban.

The ban is also a reminder that Croatia hopes to join the EU by 2012.

With 68% of its country's 4.4 million residents non-smokers, the health ministry seems to have the interests of the general population in mind.

Many of the country's 16,000 cafe and restaurant owners complained when the ban was first introduced.

The government allowed business owners a grace period, though its conviction about anti-smoking laws remains firm.

Croatian Health Minister Darko Milinovic said that there would be no more concessions for business owners, and that the total ban makes him happy.

Smokers are not happy about the ban, because they say it limits people's right to choose.

Marko Vukoja, a resident of Croatia, said that he believed the law would not curb smoking, and that it was bad for the country's strained economy.

He said that some people would end up losing their jobs as a result of the ban.

Milinovic said that the law had not been adopted to punish businesses, but to encourage Croatians who smoked to adopt a new lifestyle.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), people in the the Balkan states tend to smoke more than other Europeans.

In Croatia alone, tobacco-related deaths number upwards of 10,000.

The legislation does not apply to businesses that choose to install filtration systems in their premises, though the systems can be very expensive.

The Croatian government seems convinced that its new legislation will really work.

A similar ban was drafted into law in France several years ago, and caused a sudden drop in cigarette sales.

 

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