Why is smoking still popular in Croatia?

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Smoking in Croatia: Why is it still popular?

Croatia has one of the highest smoking rates in Europe. Despite various anti-smoking campaigns and increased taxes on tobacco products, smoking remains a popular habit among the Croatian population. 

Croatia ranks fifth equal with Cyprus and Latvia in Europe when it comes to the daily percentage of smokers among persons aged 15 with over 24.9% lighting up daily. 

Bulgaria led the way with 28.2%, followed by Turkey, Greece and Hungary, according to data from Eurostat.

Sweden boasts the lowest smoking prevalence amongst its population, with only 9.3 percent of its citizens reported as smokers. Iceland closely follows with 11.2 percent, while Finland, Norway, and Luxembourg also exhibit relatively low smoking rates, with 12.5 percent, 12.9 percent, and 13.5 percent of their populations reported as smokers, respectively.

It is rare to take a seat at a cafe in Croatia and not find someone in your immediate radius puffing away. So, why do so many Croats smoke, and what role does culture play in this behaviour?

First, it’s important to note that smoking in Croatia is not a new phenomenon. It has been a part of the country’s culture for decades. In fact, smoking was so ubiquitous in Croatia that it was even allowed in most public places until relatively recently. 

This long-standing acceptance of smoking has made it difficult to change social norms around the behaviour.

smoking in croatia

Zagreb’s Ban Jelačić Square (Photo credit: M. Vrdoljak/Zagreb TZ)

Another factor contributing to the high smoking rate in Croatia is the availability and affordability of cigarettes. Compared to other European countries, cigarettes in Croatia are relatively cheap, making them accessible to a wider range of people. 

Additionally, smoking is often seen as a way to cope with stress, and with the economic and political instability that Croatia has experienced over the years, smoking has become a way for people to manage difficult situations.

But culture also plays a significant role in the prevalence of smoking in Croatia. Smoking is often viewed as a social activity and a way to bond with others. This can be seen in the prevalence of smoking in social situations, such as at parties, bars, and cafes, especially whilst drinking coffee which is part of the cultural fabric also in Croatia.

In these settings, smoking is often seen as a way to facilitate conversation and connect with others.

Another cultural factor that contributes to the high smoking rate in Croatia is the country’s history. During the years of communist rule, smoking was often seen as a way to rebel against the government’s restrictions on personal freedoms. This rebellious attitude towards smoking has persisted, making it difficult to convince people to give up the habit.

Smoking in Croatia: Why is it still popular?

(Photo: Unsplash)

In recent years, there have been efforts to reduce smoking rates in Croatia. The government has implemented anti-smoking laws and increased taxes on tobacco products. However, these efforts have had limited success, in part because of the cultural factors that contribute to smoking in the country.

The high smoking rate in Croatia is a complex issue with cultural, social, and economic factors at play. While efforts to reduce smoking rates in the country have had some success, it will likely take a concerted effort to change social norms and attitudes towards smoking in order to make a significant impact.

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