Smoker? Countries where it's almost impossible to find a smoker-friendly zone

2018-11-27 10:30 - Marisa Crous
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People smoking on the street. (PHOTO: iStock)

A recent visit to Accra, Ghana showed me an example of a busy city, with a very low tolerance for smokers.

Arriving at the newly launched Terminal 3 at Ghana airport, a colleague of mine had to grab a smoke as soon as she exited the airport building.

Like many airports, including South African ones, people can be spotted having a smoke just outside the main doors to the airport. This is not necessarily allowed, but it's rarely punished.

Not so in Accra. 

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There are designated smoking areas everywhere and a full-on smoking ban in some public spaces. And that even extends to hotels and resorts, where sitting on your balcony having a drink and a smoke is not a possibility. In the main city you can smoke in most open areas, but very few people do. 

In my three days in Accra, I saw almost no one smoke. 

Nairobi is another African city that's very unfriendly to smokers. The Guardian reports that in the centre of the city there is a shed where smokers can go get their nicotine fix, "...dark, full of fumes, crowded and deliberately built beside the public toilets. It feels like a place of shame."

Created by the public health department, the Public Smoking Centre or "gazebo" as it's known, looks disgustingly smoky and claustrophobic.

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South African tobacco laws are also strict. Though not always enforced, people are, for example not allowed to smoke in their car if there is a child under the age of 12 present, says Health24.

You can also be fined for smoking in a non-smoking zone, and smoking in partially covered areas, like parking lots, is strictly forbidden. Yet these offences aren't taken seriously enough, or considered actual illegal acts. 

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If we look towards the East, countries like Japan are now becoming increasingly unfriendly to smokers ahead of the 2020 Olympics. Smokers used to be able to smoke freely in most restaurants and bars, but its government is now clamping down; public-smoking is also being curbed with stricter rules now being enforced, especially in areas where kids roam. 

And when it comes to Europe, it's getting more strict every year. Even in France. 

But the star of anti-smoking is Czech Republic. The country bans smoking in all bars and restaurants, as well as in the workplace and on and near all public transport. The country's compliance to smoke-free laws are also some of the highest in Europe.

Spain, Hungary and Ireland also rank very high in terms of compliance to their harsh anti-smoking laws. 

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