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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Montenegro bans smoking in public
By Matt Prodger
BBC, Belgrade

People in Montenegro tend to smoke everywhere
The parliament in Montenegro, which has one of the highest rates of smoking in Europe, has passed a law banning smoking in public places.

The new law also forbids tobacco advertising and the portrayal of smoking on television.

Montenegro is one of the last places one would expect to find a smoking ban.

Together with its partner Serbia in the union of Serbia and Montenegro, it has the third highest rate of smoking in Europe, beaten by Turkey and Greece.

Forty per cent of people smoke and they do so everywhere; in offices, restaurants, bars and on buses.

Smuggling claims

The new law makes the selling of cigarettes to those under the age of 18 punishable with a 9,110 euro (6,010) fine.

The government said it was keen to follow the trends of more developed European nations in taking a tougher line on smoking.

The ban is all the more ironic since Italian and European Union investigators have accused the Montenegrin government of complicity in large scale cigarette smuggling.

The prime minister himself, Milo Djukanovic, was named in a lawsuit brought by the European Union.

The new law is not expected to be enforced in Montenegro for at least another six months. But when it is, smokers there can take comfort from the fact that they can nip across the border to Serbia, where no such restrictions exist.

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