There is a split in public opinion
The bill ‘On Restriction of the Use of Tobacco Products’ passed its first reading in the Azerbaijani Milli Majlis (Parliament) on 14 April.
When introducing the bill, the Parliament’s Labor and Social Policy Committee Chairman, Hadi Rajabli, stated as follows: “The bill has been elaborated with due account for the social demands: women’s interest in tobacco in Azerbaijan has increased in recent years. 67.5% of men and 52.5% of women suffer from tobacco dependence. It’s intolerable that all that leads to drug addiction, which, in turn, causes discontent in public. I’m glad that the bill has also been discussed in the press and has been positively assessed in the society,” APA news agency quoted Rajabli as saying.
Rajabli added that the adoption of the law in no way implies that tobacco production in the country would be reduced, since there is a high demand for Azerbaijani tobacco abroad.
The law comprising 3 chapters and 17 articles provides a list of places where smoking is forbidden, as well as sanctions that will be imposed on perpetrators.
The citizens reacted to the aforesaid report differently:
A journalist, 41: “Banning it was the right thing to do. From personal experience, I can say that when I travel overseas to countries with a similar law, I always abide by the law and that’s fine with me. Maybe due to this ban I’ll finally quit that addictive habit.”
An oilman, 43: “It’s a useless ban. If a person wants to smoke no fine will prevent him from smoking.”
A café owner, 39: “If this ban applies equally to everyone, I highly welcome it. I’m not afraid of losing clients; they may even increase in number at the expense of non-smokers.”
A woman, 37, a café client: “It’s a very timely decision. Earlier, I couldn’t come here with my child, because she can’t stand cigarette smoke, whereas now we can dine here peacefully.”
Social media users:
“That’s the right decision! It’s a common practice worldwide. I’m a non-smoker and I can’t stand cigarette smoke. Why should I go to a restaurant, a club or any other recreational place and inhale that cigarette smoke? Why should there be a cigarette smoke odor on my clothes? I pay as much money for recreation as the smokers do, don’t I!? You want to smoke? Then you’d better go outside, on a balcony, to a specially allocated area, and smoke there as much as you wish!”
“It’s not quite the right solution to the problem. A smoker would like to smoke while eating or drinking and if a restaurant has such a possibility, then separate halls should be arranged. It’s ridiculous even to consider a non-smoking restaurant option, since in this case the restaurant will sustain serious losses.”
“It’s probably the best news in the past 5 years.”