Iâ€™m not a smoker and honestly I hate it. That is why when the government through the Ministry of Health announced that it would enforce the anti-smoking law, I was very enthused as it would finally allow me and my friends to spend more time in closed bars where otherwise it would get unbearable after 20 minutes due to the intense smell of cigarette smoke. The law forbids the smoking of cigarettes in public spaces like restaurants, bars, work places, etc.
The law was implemented successfully since the end of May 2007. During this short-lived period bars and restaurants would not allow their customers to smoke inside. This was relatively easy to implement since people could smoke in the outside areas of bars where it is allowed. However, since the start of October Iâ€™ve noticed that more and more bars and restaurants are starting to allow their customers to smoke inside their premises. This is even more pervasive at nights and especially during the weekends.
Even NGOs are starting to point this issue out. Some are now report growing numbers of both female and male smokers in Albania. Meanwhile, even the advertising of smoking, which is forbidden, has not been completely enforced and if this trend continues, then things might go back to where they were before the introduction of this law. Meanwhile, experts say that the anti-smoking is complete in itself, but the issue remains its enforcement by the respective authorities.
For me it is always interesting to observe how we as Albanians want so much for things to change, but seem to be incapable of becoming ourselves that change, especially when it comes to public health issues. I tried to confirm these figures, but could not, anyway some statistics that I heard on the TV say that currently in Albania there are about 872,000 smokers, according to Biznesi Online. Other statistics say that over 50% of those over 18 are considered smokers.