Georgia freed from "Soviet smoke"

Georgia freed from "Soviet smoke"

Legislative norms that prohibit smoking in public will be in force in Georgia starting May 1. They were adopted last year, but their implementation was postponed several times - authorities were afraid of reaction of smokers, who make up a significant part of the population. Georgia was considered one of the most smoking republics of the former Soviet Union. Authorities clearly didn't want to affect their way of life, but after signing of a historical agreement on association with the EU, Georgia took a number of obligations to change legislation in line with the EU norms.

Brussels closely monitors implementation of this agreement. One of the important indicators of Tbilisi's readiness to rebuild the country in a European way are all kinds of restrictions that affect lifes of those who have bad habits.

From now on people can't smoke indoors, in particular in "any structure that has a floor, ceiling and walls." Personal house or apartment are exceptions, just like "specialized institutions for studying the harm of smoking," prisons, as well as mental health institutions. It won't be possible to smoke at stadiums starting from 2020, although it's hard to imagine a fan who doesn't smoke in Georgia.

Fines for violation of this law are pretty strict: an institution (cafe or bar) that committed a violation is fined 500 lari ($204) for first offense and 1000 lari ($408) for the second one. In case of third violation, institution will closed or its license will be revoked. Individual can be fined 50 to 100 lari for smoking in prohibited places. Offender will also pay a fine for smoking at the stairwell of his apartment building.

Despite pressure from foreign partners, legislatorslegislators had to make some concessions. For example, casinos became one of exceptions. Gambling industry brings huge revenues and is considered to be one of the most important parts of tourism. Ban on smoking in casinos is almost impossible - it will be necessary to close casino and accept transition of the gambling business underground, in other words, into the shadow economy.

But what about traditions that people got used to? There are almost always several hundred people at Georgian weddings and funerals. But authorities hinted that when it comes to fines, police will show flexibility in exceptional cases and delicate circumstances.

Advertising of tobacco products is prohibited completely. Packs of cigarettes will now have horrifying pictures depicting consequences of smoking on them. Tobacco importers will be fined millions of lari for violations.

Discussion that unfolded in society showed that conscious part of it agrees with this reform, aimed at protecting people's health. Such consciousness is a great indicator of a country that begins to live according to civilized norms, it's natural for developed countries.

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