Croatia For Smokers
Our last comment on Croatia’s relationship with smokers was only a few months ago (Croatia Online - Smoking In Croatia) when we reported on the practical implementation of the smoking ban introduced in May 2009. For a country that has a higher proportion of smokers than many other parts of Europe and where cigarettes are still around £2 per packet, it was of some surprise that the ban had managed to stick quite well. However, with winter approaching and recessionary pressures still strong, the government has now bent to pressure from worried bar, cafe, restaurant and nightclub owners, and relaxed the rules a little. From now on, in most cases, designated smoking zones covering no more than a fifth of the premises will be allowed. Venues under 50 square meters will have to decide whether to be “smoking” or “non smoking”.
Non smokers will obviously feel this is a retrograde step but the decision has been met with a big sigh of relief from owners who have seen their taking go down considerably since the ban was introduced. That’s a similar story as elsewhere in Europe but Croatia shouldn’t be criticised too harshly for being practical in this way – don’t forget that England, amongst other western European countries went through a similar early compromise process and then reintroduced a more severe ban later on, after the brief reprieve. No doubt there’s a psychological process in force that will make inveterate Croatian smokers now more conscious and considerate of their non smoking compatriots and perhaps more open towards a total ban in indoor public places when EU pressures eventually win the day.