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It Just Might Work

At midnight on Friday Albania went non-smoking, with a complete ban in all public places. I was sceptical - everyone I know was sceptical. Albanians are too addicted to the weed, we thought; the law is just for show for the EU; it will never be enforced.

It looks like I was wrong. Tonight, day two of the ban, I was walking around the city with Bella the dog in tow. Bella is a leisurely walker - she likes to stop and sniff - so I had plenty of time to glance in the cafes and bars as we passed.

In smaller local bars, the picture was mixed. Some places had cleared the ashtrays off the tables; in others the customers were puffing away as normal. In more central areas, the change was more noticeable. Most places had removed the ashtrays; one had placed a large no-smoking sign on the entrance; another had multiple signs on the walls; a third had individual no-smoking signs on all the tables.

The timing of the ban has been helpful. Since the days are hot and the evenings are warm, many people are sitting outside where smoking is still permitted. Also, the enclosed patios that front many premises are being treated as an outdoor rather than an indoor space, and therefore not subject to the restrictions. I'm not sure whether this is the legal position or an interpretation by the owners of bars.

At some point this week I plan to take a walk round and visit a dozen local bars and cafes - purely in the interests of research - without a dog in tow, to get a better idea of how things are working out.


ak said…
I'd suggest you waited at least one week before checking. I'm still sceptical. I still remember 3 or 4 of these initiatives to enforce the law that failed miserably(seat belts in automobiles in the city area, etc.). They all worked the first week. This one looks tougher, and people are still the same, so this has no reason to work. I sincerelly hope I'm wrong, being also a non-smoker and a citizen respectful of the law most of the time.
Anonymous said…
Well, seat belts in the car I do not follow in the States or anywhere else. That's hard to enforce since the chance of being caught are minimal and there are more important things for cops. But fines on bars that allow smoking, add to that the fact that non-smokers can easily complain; well, you got disciplined Albanian smokers. One day I will write a book about them; to me the smoker is the modern day leper. Oh the humanity.
Anonymous said…
Finally! I can't stand smoke. It makes me sick, gives me a headache, especailly on the bus!
Anonymous said…

Albanians smoke illegally in bars even here in smoke free Toronto. This law is just another one of those feeble attempts of Tirana's elite to portray itself as 'european' (whatever that may mean)
Anonymous said…
i hope it will work. if it does it'll be great. public enforcement in albania! that would be wonderful, it would be a huge step forward. i really doubt there will be any private enforcement, which i think is quite important for "no smoking" areas, much more than it is for seatbelts etc. but one can never know...right?
seanachie said…
I am generally in favour of smoking bans, if only from a pragmatic point of view - anything that will gradually wean people off cigarettes over the course of a generation or so is a good thing. However given the general level of fumes given off by Tirana's very environmentally-unfriendly second-hand BMWs and Mercs I can't really say that a smoking ban is going to make much difference to the general health of local people.

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