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Tobacco-Crazy Montenegro Bans Smoking in Public Indoor Spaces

Montenegro has one of the highest tobacco-usage rates in Europe.
Montenegro has one of the highest tobacco-usage rates in Europe.

Montenegro, which has one of the highest tobacco-usage rates in Europe, has banned smoking in indoor public places.

Under the law taking effect on August 14, smoking is banned in all closed public places, including restaurants and cafes, although casinos have received an exception to the new rules.

The law passed parliament in a unanimous vote on July 31 after Health Minister Kenan Hrapovic said an anti-tobacco law adopted in 2004 did not bring the expected results.

Hrapovic said his office will "persevere in its efforts to enforce every section of the law to the letter."

A World Bank study put Montenegro's smoking rate in 2016 at nearly 46 percent of people above age 15, while the country's Health Ministry estimates that some 400 Montenegrins are diagnosed with lung cancer each year.

Fines for violating the law -- which also regulates cigarette sales and mandates warnings on packages -- range from $560 to $22,370.

Under the law, businesses will be allowed to set up separate rooms to accommodate smokers.

Some leaders in the restaurant and tourist industries have expressed concerns that the new law could adversely affect revenue at their establishments.

Smoking indoors continues to be widespread in the Balkan region, although Croatia and North Macedonia have similar bans on closed public places.

Based on reporting by AFP, Total Montenegro News, and Medical Express