Lithuania introduced smokefree legislation on 1 January 2007. Smoking is prohibited in enclosed public places and workplaces, including bars, restaurants, cafés and clubs. Designated smoking rooms are not allowed, but workplace smoking rooms are allowed. Because the requirements for such smoking rooms are so strict (e.g. ventilation, washable walls) and expensive, it seems that employers are not installing them. Cigar and pipe clubs are exempt from the legislation. Criteria are very strict – food cannot be served and there must be a separate entrance. The State Agency reported that only one cigar club was set up in 2008.
Casinos, bingo clubs and internet cafés were included in the ban in 2008.
The law is working well. A small survey found that smoking consumption has fallen as a result. It is accepted by public, as exemplified by the public outcry when the Prime Minister was found smoking a pipe in a restaurant while meeting with the Latvian Prime Minister.
Preparation for smokefree legislation
External factors that influenced Lithuania: (1) smokefree policies in Ireland, Italy, Malta and other European countries; (2) Evidence from other countries that smoking bans do not damage business; (3) FCTC
Internal factors – (1) Active support from Minister of Health who was a Professor of Public Health; (2) Strong NGO movement (LNTACC a member of ENSP); (3) European Commission project ‘HELP – for a life without tobacco; (4) Existing tobacco advertising ban; (5) High public awareness of the health effects of tobacco.
The first proposal for a smoking ban by one individual in Parliament was unsuccessful due to lack of strategy and opposition from the tobacco industry via industry-support NGOs. Lessons were learned and the second proposal involved a coordinated strategy among NGOs and the Ministry of Health. It was also supported via public opinion surveys, a public relations campaign (newspaper articles, press conferences and participation in TV and radio debates) and evidence-based information for lobbying (ventilation doesn’t work, businesses don’t suffer, bans improve health). Key messages were used – protection from secondhand smoke, the right to a healthy workplace, positive influence on children. It became clear that the public wanted a smoking ban.
The industry used the arguments it had used in other countries via certain NGOs – rights of smokers, investments made in ventilation, impact on the hospitality industry. It had partial success with the exemption for cigar and pipe clubs.
Smokefree resources available in 2009
LNTACC www.koalicija.org – it includes the Lithuanian version of FCTC and contacts.
The State tobacco and alcohol control agency www.vtakt.lt .
Smokefree Partnership www.smokefreepartnership.eu
European Network on Smoking Prevention www.ensp.org
Enforcement and compliance
Compliance is high and only a few fines were given to bars last year. Public awareness is high. There were some efforts to discredit the ban but it is respected and implemented without problems. In 2008 almost no fines were made for breaches of the ban. It is no longer being discussed among the public, suggesting it has been accepted.
First, say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. Health Service Food and Human Resources: Duty free online cigarettes