Smoking in public places has been banned for 10 months already, with little effect
The parliament of Azerbaijan has raised the fines for smoking violations in all categories.
In addition to public places such as cafes, restaurants, schools and public buildings, smoking is now prohibited in taxis as well.
The fine for smoking in a public place will increase to 50 manat (about $30). Those who “allow” smoking in a public location will be fined 500 manat (about $300), 10 times more than the smokers themselves. Legal entities will be fined 1,200 manat (around $700).
The ban on smoking in public places came into force in January 2018. However, it has not been very effective – many people continue to smoke in cafes and restaurants.
It is unclear what bodies are supposed to enforce the law and collect fines, and cafe, bar and restaurant owners say they do not know who is responsible for enforcing the smoking laws.
“No one has come to check this entire year,” says the owner of a local Baku bar. “I think that the government hasn’t yet decided who will handle this issue, and the mechanism hasn’t started working either.”
“In theory, the Minister of Internal Affairs is responsible for writing fines for administrative offenses, but I don’t know exactly – the press hasn’t written about it,” says the owner of another bar.
Social media users and internet forum visitors do not believe that these changes will have an impact on the issue.
“What’s the point? People are smoking anyway – both drivers and in cafes. How many times can you ‘pass’ this law?”
“When the law appeared a year ago about the smoking ban in public places, it concerned bus drivers as well. And what happened? You’re going along in the bus, the driver gets off at a stop, buys a couple of cigarettes, lights one up right in the kiosk, gets back into the bus and continues driving. I hope at some point these endless laws will start working.”
“Bus drivers are a special caste to whom laws don’t apply: they smoked, they smoke and they will always smoke… Even metro car drivers smoke sometimes, I’ve seen it myself.”