Kosovo: new tobacco control law introduces world’s strongest protection against tobacco industry interference

Kosovo has surged ahead in tobacco control with the introduction of a comprehensive tobacco control law. Notable among the range of measures is the strongest protections against tobacco industry interference in the world, based on Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The measures, which will apply to the whole of government and be enforced by the national Anti-Corruption Agency, include:

  • No unnecessary interactions between government and tobacco industry.
  • Full transparency for necessary interactions.
  • Prohibition on government partnership with, or support of, the tobacco industry.
  • Prohibition on contributions from tobacco industry to government, to government officials, and to political parties.
  • Strong tobacco-related conflict of interest provisions

The country already had a weak tobacco control law which was passed in 2007, but had been struggling to enforce it. With female smoking prevalence of 44% – the second highest in the world – and 47% of youth having tried smoking before turning 18, the new law is a welcome measure. Other provisions in the law are:

  • 100% smoke-free indoor public places, work places, and public transportation, as well as specified outdoor areas, with some very minor exceptions.
  • Comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, including a ban on retail tobacco product displays.
  • Graphic health warnings on both sides of the pack.
  • Ban on misleading packaging, including descriptors such as ‘light’ and ‘low’.
  • Prohibition on sales to and by minors.
  • Ban on sales in health, education, and athletic facilities.
  • Granting power to the Ministry of Health authority to ban ingredients.
  • Constituents and emissions limits with reporting requirements for manufacturers.
  • Cessation and education measures, include 45 minutes each month of mandatory programming on public radio and television.

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