The New Year began in Macedonia in a tough manner with a ban on smoking in bars, clubs and cafes, introducing harsh fines for owners of facilities and smokers.
Under the new regulations, smoking is banned in all locations serving food, both indoors and outdoors, Macedonian Health and Economy Ministers Bujar Osmani and Fatmir Besim said in a joint statement.
AdvertisementOwners of bars and restaurants face fines of between 2,500 to 4,500 euros (3,600 to 6,465 dollars) for violating the regulations.
Those caught with cigarettes in areas where smoking is banned will have to pay between 150 and 300 euros (215 to 430 dollars).
An estimated half of the two million population in the former Yugoslav republic is believed to smoke.
The tough law was first introduced in December 2008, but was soon withdrawn to allow consumers and business owners time to adjust.
Smoking is now banned not only indoors, but also on balconies or restaurant terraces.
Bar and restaurant owners called on state authorities to reconsider some of the rules, fearing the strict law could cost jobs as they expect a drop in business from regular smokers.
Macedonia has a nearly 35 percent unemployment rate.