Romania is considered a place as many other Balkan peninsula states, where approximately all bars, clubs and cafes are filled with cigarette smoke – a real nightmare for nonsmokers.
But nowadays the situation is changing in a region known for its centuries – old nicotine habit and one of the highest smoking rates in Europe after Russia and the Ukraine.
“Currently Romanians travel very often abroad and when they are in Paris or Rome they understand how it is good to go out and be able to breath clean air,” stated Magda Ciobanu, a pulmonologist, who studies the given trend.
Heavy-smoking Turkey unexpectedly implemented a cigarette ban in cafes and restaurants in July 2009, and Macedonia prohibited smoking inside bars, cafes and clubs in 2010. Albania and Greece also have introduced the ban and Croatia toughened the nation’s smoking ban last year. Romania could follow the example of the previous countries if a bill advised by Manuela Mitrea is introduced.
“Romania must follow the example on this issue set by many European countries, as for instance France, Ireland, Italy, Norway and Spain, which are known for their tough anti-tobacco laws in,” said Mitrea.
“I don’t want to prohibit people to smoke. But I think that it is not normal that nonsmokers should suffer,” she said.
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates demonstrate that more than 600,000 nonsmokers die worldwide from second-hand smoke. But the struggle for a ban in Romania could dribble along.
“We see that Romanians are against the complete ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. However all studies that we realized demonstrate that a great number yet favor these move,” stated pulmonologist Ciobanu.
A survey conducted in 2009 demonstrated that 46% of Romanians are in favor of this ban and 43% are against it.
According to official statistics, the rate of daily smoking is dropping, down from 36% of the population over 15 years old in 2003 to 28% in 2009. But many bar and restaurant owners remain doubtful on this matter.
“People come to a club to relax and not do penance. If the bill will be implemented, we will lose a lot of customers,” said Ana Cucu, a manager of a popular nightclub.
“The tobacco industry lobby has directed its steps towards East. They noticed that in the old European countries the legislation is in place, thus they got to countries where there are no so many legislations and enforcements,” said Kristina Mauer-Stender, WHO’s tobacco control officer.
Underlying that smoking bans do not appear overnight, Mauer-Stender, pointed to the example of Turkey, which adopted the smoking ban in 2009 and till today it works.
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