Italy has some 14 million smokers (nearly 25 per cent of the population) and, not surprisingly, this results in a high incidence of smoking-related diseases (including 100,000 deaths per year). Many Italians start smoking at an early age, cigarettes are inexpensive (as little as â‚?.50 for 20) and, in keeping with the Italians' sense of individual liberty, the government has, until recently, made little effort to persuade people to stop smoking. Another reason for this may be that the cheapest cigarettes (known as nazionali) are manufactured by the state!
However, in a radical move designed to protect the health of passive smokers, the government recently introduced a draconian anti-smoking law, and smoking is now banned in all enclosed spaces, including schools, offices, banks, shops, hospitals, airports, railway stations and work places. Smoking is also banned on public transport, other than in carriages reserved for smokers, and on all Italian domestic flights and Alitalia international flights. Employers must provide separate areas equipped with extractor fans for employees who smoke, and bars and restaurants must provide separate areas for smoking customers (fumatori) and non-smoking customers (non fumatori). Those who break the law can be fined between â‚?5 and â‚?60 (although first time offenders are likely only to be asked to extinguish their cigarettes) and employers who fail to enforce it can be fined up to â‚?,100.
This excerpt has been republished with permission from Survival Books. Some of the information may apply to EU citizens only. If you would like to get the inside track on moving to Italy, pick up your copy of this great book by clicking here.