Citizens of Banja Luka, Sarajevo and Mostar joined the celebration of Smoke-free day through an interactive video presentation “A life in smoke – save me.” The marking of this day in the region was initiated in 1982 as a way to warn the public about the harmful consequences of cigarette smoke.
“Today we have witnessed the joy of the visitors who, symbolically, have beaten the tobacco smoke,” said professor Aida Ramić Čatak, the Federal Coordinator for Tobacco Control. “It would be great if the citizens understood the significance of this topic and were louder in their demands for clean air.”
The initiative Klima Bez Dima is a part of the Reducing Health Risk Factors Project in Bosnia and heryegovina (BiH) supported by the Swiss Government and implemented by the World Bank in partnership with the entity Ministries of Health, Public Health Institutes and other local partners. The main goal of this initiative to collect at least 10,000 signatures which will send a message to decision-makers about the importance of adopting new legal framework in the field of tobacco control. Votes of support, i.e. citizens’ promises to support Klima Bez Dima initiative and work on bringing about a world free of tobacco smoke, are still being collected via the klimabezdima.com webpage.
Public figures, athletes, professors, medical workers and students, as well as representatives of international organizations are among those who have already signed the petition. Mirza Teletović, a famous basketball player who has played and won many European and NBA basketball matches over the last two decades, gave his support to a life without tobacco smoke.
Mirza Teletović, president of Basketball Association of BiH: “I have travelled around the world and I have been trying, both as an athlete and as a father of four kids, to incorporate the best practices I have seen in the upbringing of my children. I want them to live to the fullest in a nice place with clean air. That’s why I support Climate without smoke. Tobacco smoke should not reside in schools, hospitals, restaurants and sports facilities.”
Since more than 10 years the Government of Switzerland actively supports the health authorities in BiH on health topics. Ensuring clean, smoke free air in indoor places contributes to a better public health.
“We are all aware that tobacco smoking is today still allowed in most public places in BiH. Many citizens but also decision makers are not yet fully aware how harmful exposure to tobacco smoke really is. Children are often the first victims. I congratulate those managers in the public sector and business owners who have decided to make their places smoke-free. Today we are joining the call for the public action for saving lives and banning smoking in public places. Let us protect children, pregnant women, elderly citizens, non-smokers and all those who chose the life without tobacco smoke”, stated Barbara Dätwyler Scheuer, Director of Cooperation at the Embassy of Switzerland in BiH.
Financial costs of consumption of tobacco and tobacco based products in BiH are alarming: they amount to 900 million BAM on an annual basis, including direct and indirect costs of health sector and costs related to the loss of productivity due to disability and premature death.
“Every year around 9,000 people die in BiH due to tobacco/related diseases”, stated Jamele Rigolini, Lead Economist and Program Leader at the World Bank. “ If no action is taken, 180,000 people will die prematurely of tobacco related diseases in BiH in next two decades. Adopting and enforcing legislation aimed to protect citizens from second hand smoke will make a huge positive difference to population’s health”
The issue of controlling tobacco smoke is especially significant for protecting the children in BiH. According to the World Bank data, 85% of the children have been exposed to second-hand smoke on a daily basis.
“Fortunately, nobody smokes at the swimming pool, “says Amel Kapo, the founder of “Spid”, the only swimming club for people with disabilities. “The slogan of our club is “we are all equal in water,” so we would like to have equal opportunities for living “with the full capacity of our lungs”, without tobacco smoke in all indoor places.”
Erna Saljević, blogger and influencer, while supporting this initiative, posed a question publicly: “Isn’t it nicer to spend time in rooms full of fresh air, no matter where you are? It is about time we started thinking about others, who should not be forced to inhale tobacco smoke.”
Although 37 years have passed since the professors and students of Medical faculty in Tuzla have proposed that 31st January should be marked as the No Tobacco Day, medical experts and advocators of healthy lifestyle emphasize that BiH policy makers still have not ensured adequate laws and appropriate treatment of non-smokers.