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Serbia: Smokers’ Paradise

Serbia marked the National No Smoking Day on Jan. 31, but, as one Serbian blogger noted, “Serbia is the paradise and El Dorado for smokers.”

Below is the translation of the Jan. 29 post by Predator:

The legal poisoners rule Serbian cities, villages and squares. There is no bigger Mecca, El Dorado and Paradise for smokers than Serbia. People smoke everywhere […]. I see people who smoke in Belgrade's bakeries, butcher shops, pastry shops, hospitals, offices, government buildings every day. Of course, there are official labels at these facilities – no smoking.

On New Year's Eve, I watched a baker smoking for five minutes during his break in the Toma bakery. He lit a cigarette and spread ashes around the mixer for dough. Then do you know what he did? He threw his cigarette butt on the floor and went on rolling dough for pizza.

There are a lot of similar cases in Belgrade every day. There is no reaction. Everyone is silent, everyone is pretending not to see how smokers are poisoning them.

One Serb came to Belgrade from the U.S. for the New Year's, after being away for a long time. I asked him about his impressions of Serbia. Hmm, what can I say to you? The man was shocked to see so many people smoking in Belgrade's streets and throwing their butts anywhere they went. He told me he had never seen so much trash, plastic bags, papers, cartons in the streets of Serbia's capital. […]

Nikola Tosic analyzed economic and health effects of smoking on his blog a few months ago:

Serbia's tobacco industry is a significant part of a vicious circle that burdens the society in several ways.

The government makes the first step by supporting production of tobacco in order for its quality to improve and its price to become acceptable for producers. Demand for the cigarettes is very high and homemade production is not sufficient. That is the first expense for taxpayers. The government manipulates the price of tobacco with our money to keep producers of tobacco satisfied.

Producers such as Phillip Morris and British-American Tobacco make the second step. They blackmail the government by firing workers if the situation is not good for their business.

Demand for cigarettes is the third step. The percentage of smokers in Serbia is among the highest in the world. […]

Medical expenses are the fourth step. They make up for the heaviest burden on the national budget. Smokers use budget resources more often than others, because they are more likely to get cancer and cardiovascular diseases, for which hospital treatment is very expensive. […]

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