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News 15 Oct 13

Kosovo to Watch out For Indoor Smokers

As the cold snap starts, smokers tempted to sneak indoors for a puff, and flout the tough new smoking regulations, need to watch out.

BIRN
Pristina

As winter sets in, smokers tempted to flout the country's latest regulations on puffing in enclosed public spaces need to be careful.

Ferid Agani, Kosovo's Minister of Health, said that while police reported few violations of a tough new anti-smoking law passed this spring, "we will be very attentive in this period, when most smokers go inside public areas so that there are no violations of the law and that these don’t become a phenomenon”.

On April 4, Kosovo banned smoking in all indoor public areas, cafes included. Five different inspectorates are tasked with enforcing the ban, which foresees fines of up to 20,000 euro.

So far, most people are obeying the new regulations. In September, after inspectors carried out 155 operations in the Pristina region, they reported only 12 violations to the courts.

“As of next week, we will start inspections in different regions throughout Kosovo”, Ilirjana Zymberaj, the chief sanitary inspector for Kosovo, warned.

Agani, meanwhile, said he would insist on reported violations of the law being prioritized by the courts.

Most Balkan countries are cracking down on smoking to varying degrees. In November 2010, Serbia forbade smoking in indoor working areas and public spaces, and in outdoor spaces connected with health care, education, or child care.

Since 2010, Macedonia has had a comprehensive national smoke-free law covering all public indoor areas.

Albania adopted tough anti-smoking laws back in 2007, but they are not strictly enforced.

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