The old tobacco law (LAW NO. 02/L-36), adopted in 2011 faced implementing difficulties due to the article 10, paragraph 10.5, which defined division of space for smokers to 30 percent of total public space. As a result, the parliament of Kosovo voted unanimously, except two abstentions, for a new law regarding tobacco where the restrictions would be 100% for smoking in the public areas. The implementation of this law will be taken very seriously since it was strongly supported by the Members of the Parliament. Moreover, many of the diseases present in Kosovo is because of smoking and second-hand smoking.
“The fact that the government of Kosovo has given full support to this law and that the Parliament voted with no votes against, which is rare, shows categorically that state institutions, civil society and community are convinced that it is time to implement it,” says Faik Hoti, communications director at the Health Ministry.
In Kosovo, the data collected by the Statistical Office of Kosovo regarding the number of deaths in the period 2006-2011, have concluded that out of 42,831 deaths recorded, 17 thousand of them or 53 percent were deaths from cardiovascular disease – where tobacco enters as one of the main factors. Moreover, more than 50% of children in Kosovo are victims of second-hand smoking.
Relating the inspectors and whether there is a sufficient number of inspectors to cover the numerous bars and restaurants in Kosovo Durak Zyrapi, inspector, adds: “there is a sufficient number, but not sufficient enough, since we have 57 sanitation workers to cover the whole region of Kosovo. Before we were alone in our mission, but now we have the support of many departments, especially the police.”
The sentences regarding the violation of law would be 3000 – 5000 euros for the head of bars and restaurants, 500 euros for the responsible person (manager) of the space, and 50 euros for the smoker. People who would get caught smoking will be asked for their identification card and get fined. Whenever the inspectors or the managers have any problem with any civil regarding smoking then the police, according to the law, have the right to intervene. However, there is a problem with the inspectors during the weekends and after 17 pm, since inspectors finish their shifts.
Even though everyone welcomes this law, Safet Gërxhaliu, Head of the Chamber of Commerce, states that him as a representative of the businesses has a problem with the Article 9.2 which prohibits the exposure of tobacco in every place, there cannot be any visibility of tobacco in shops or other public places. He adds that: “this law goes against the constitution, specifically with the Articles relating the economy and free trade competition. After meeting the minister of Finance, Bedri Hamzaj, now ex-minister has promised to take definite steps and ask the Parliament to reject the Article 9.2, but he never did that.”
Shkumbin Spahija, civil society representative, is against this economic argument made by the Chamber of Commerce. He adds: “Instead of spending 700-1000 euros annually for tobacco and effecting themselves and people around them, these smokers could use this money and buy something else which is beneficial for the economy of Kosovo. There is no loss!”
In summary, his law has been approved and it is expected to be successfully implemented. The businesses are the ones that will be the most effected. The inspectors believe that the implementation of this law will be successful since now they do have the support of the police.