25% of the population in Kosovo are smokers, calls for protection from the influence of the tobacco industry

The Kosovo Advocacy and Development Center (KADC) has found that the tobacco industry tends to dilute the perceptions of government officials and the public about the negative effects of tobacco, exaggerating the economic importance of this industry and ignoring the health, environmental and social costs that smoking causes.

The executive director of the center, Shkumbin Spahiu, said that the tobacco industry uses economic opportunities to influence public policies, to weaken and hinder the implementation of tobacco control policies.

"These health policies conflict with the interests of the tobacco industry, which aim to preserve and increase the number of smokers and its own economic benefits," said Spahiu.

And, the representative of the World Health Organization in Kosovo, Isme Humolli, has said that the tobacco industry tries to interfere with the right of governments, it is stated in the KADC communique.

Faik Hoti, from the National Institute of Public Health, has emphasized that Kosovo continues to face challenges in the progress of tobacco control policies due to the continuous interventions of the tobacco industry.

According to Hoti, the number of smokers in Kosovo has decreased significantly. As he has shown, only a quarter of the country's population is a smoker.

However, the advisor to the Minister of Health, Egzon Azemi, has stated that in January alone, 520 fines were issued for non-compliance with the Tobacco Control Law. He went on to say that fines issued by sanitary inspectors will be processed directly by the Chamber of Enforcement.

In the KADC report, it is stated that the intervention of the tobacco industry has influenced the delay in the approval of the Administrative Instruction for Combined Warnings and the continuation of the marketing of tobacco products without appropriate health warnings. The report also states that the tobacco industry has attempted to interfere with key provisions of the Tobacco Control Act, such as the display of tobacco products at points of sale and lobbying governments to change tobacco tax policies.

At the table they held on this topic, the representatives called for the creation of a healthy environment and the protection of public health policies from the interference of the tobacco industry.