Here's a good post from Elvis the Albanian Blogger about the no-smoking legislation that was put into (no)effect last Spring. It was so disappointing when only after a month or so of putting the no-smoking signs up in every restaurant and bar, the management of the places started to once again place ash trays on the tables. The law itself is not the problem, it's the enforcement of the law, or rather the non-enforcement. We have a friend who owns a lovely restaurant here in Tirana and he told us how one of the government ministers was sitting in the dining room and lit up a cigarette. For me that says everything about what is wrong in Albania. But there's more to the story. It was close to midnight and when someone said something to the minister they apparently relpied "But it's midnight. There won't be anyone around to enforce the law now!"
It's pathetic. As Elvis says "it is always interesting to observe how we as Albanians want so much for things to change, but seem to be incapable of becoming ourselves that change". Let me be very honest. The foreigners who are living here (and there are quite a few), are here to help Albania change, but they often comment on how the society is functioning at about the level of a 10 year old. There are laws, put in place for the good of all the people, but when "Mom or Dad" are not looking, the children enjoy breaking the laws.
It's not only the smoking issue, driving is also uncontrolled. Yes, there are police on almost every street corner, but their function is merely to keep traffic moving. Rarely do they enforce traffic laws. People seem to take great pleasure out of "getting away with it". Pedestrians never stop at a red light, and even if you are crossing on the green you risk your life every time you cross the road.
But I digress- back to the no-smoking thing.
I know ONE restaurant that enforces the law. ONE. Plus ONE cafe. ONE. And even in that cafe which has been non-smoking for years, I had to tell a woman this week that smoking was prohibited after she lit up. Plus it's almost impossible to get a table in that cafe because it is so popular because it has the no-smoking policy.
Two years ago, the government decided to enforce a law that made it illegal to have dark/tinted windows in your car. How long did they enforce that law? As far as I know- ONE day. ONE.
Yes I know we are guests in your country, and some of us are mercenaries, and some of us are missionaries. But you have to not only mouth the words, YOU also have to be the change. You don't obey the law just because the authorities are not looking. NO. You obey it because it is better for EVERYONE. I don't obey moral laws because I am afraid of God's punishment. NO. I obey them because it makes my world a far more beautiful place to live- for everyone.
Ah, but I am preaching... forgive me :)
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