Thursday, June 25, 2009

Croatia Online – Smoking In Croatia

Etnoland Peka

We last reported on smoking in Croatia back in July 2006, when political correctness in this respect was a very foreign concept. So much so, in fact, that the inspiration for the Croatia Online July 2006 posting  was a new “sailing edition” of one of the most popular brands, Ronhill. Now the inevitable has finally arrived in Croatia – smoking indoors in public areas was banned in May 2009 in the hope that spending summer outdoors would give Croatians time to adjust before the colder weather.

Unlike the rest of Europe, Croatians, especially Dalmatians, weren’t really prepared for this – it’s been tried before, somewhat half heartedly, and the Dalmatians don’t take too kindly about being told what to do in this respect. This time, however, it seems the authorities are serious – the fines are heavy and we understand that the ban is being enforced reasonably vigorously.

Café and restaurant owners are protesting vociferously about the effect on business, already suffering from the world recession, but it looks like the ban is here to stay. In a country where cigarette smoking is still the norm, rather than the exception, and where a packet of 20 still costs under £2, it will be interesting to see how the locals adjust.

The government did consider seriously upping the price of cigarettes but with so many open borders with Bosnia and Hercegovina, where cigarettes are even cheaper, that would have been a shot in the treasury foot. Stricter border controls are a key feature of EU  accession, for when Croatia becomes “frontline” to non EU countries, and no doubt this will also affect the price of cigarettes.

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Today’s photo shows smoking of a different sort. In the smoking room of Etnoland's Dalmatian village, our friends, Joško and Mičko, taught us the secret arts of Peka (cooking under a bell immersed in embers) and we’ll be giving you some more information on that in our next posting.

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