19-I-2013 03:17:18

The Western kind of anti-smoker racism hasn't taken root yet, so you won't see someone pretending to cough and the smoker 5m away bowing his head and moving 10m more. Smokers still have the dignity here.

Smoking was ubiquitous once, just like everywhere else - people used to smoke in the movies, trains, buses, restaurants, waiting rooms, during meetings etc. The only limitations were that on a train you had smoking and non-smoking compartments (called kupe - coupe :), and you shouldn't smoke while waiting at the doctor's. And in the theatre (not movie, The theatre, with live actors), because of all the plush. In schools, there was a general ban for students, but the staff room was smoky, and there was always a piece of grounds where the smoking ban was not enforced - sometimes it was the WC, sometimes a hidden corner of the schoolyard. There was no ban on smoking in shops and stores, but nobody came in to buy anything while puffing away.

Then the smoking was banned, gradually, on the buses, in the waiting rooms, in the movies, during the meetings, in public buildings. The recent laws, enforced on pain of joining the EU, require every company to have a smoking (ban) policy, but I don't see it enforced strictly. Though I'm seeing the signs of hysteria already, an odd teenager on the street waving a hand in front of his nose when about two meters from me, and the staunch anti-smokers raising their heads, and pumping up their decibels, knowing they have some foreign backing.

And nobody even thinks of banning it in bars. Actually, bars below 80 square meters are required to choose sides - smoking or not - and larger ones have to separate the zones. For the few where the non-smoking zones were opened (November 2010, when the law was on), they consisted of a much smaller areas, and even those were mostly empty. The bars around larger office buildings have all opted for smoking, because of the flow of employees from those buildings, who now have to go out to have a smoke. Business seems to be going well.

The black signs (as pictured) mean smoking; the white mean no smoking.