Thursday, 30 December 2021

In Praise of Croatian Public Health: My Triple Bypass Success Story

December the 30th, 2021 - The Croatian public health system is faced with a lot of criticism, much of it is unfounded, here's my story.

Last spring was promising me yet another wonderful, very long, carefree and rejuvenating time down by the sea. Retirement is a blessing. It offers freedom of movement (plus freedom of speech if you enjoy it properly) and, especially, total command over one’s time. That's the bright side of it.

Time is man’s only true possession - everything else is precarious, ephemeral, temporary or illusional, much like our own bodies and physical states, for example. They're precarious, ephemeral, temporary, limited, and certainly not a supporting companion to our soul. I think that babies start crying seconds after their birth not because they are terrified by the new environment, but because they experience physical pain. Pain is man’s first experience of the world. Our body is not our friend, and it is less and less so as time goes by.

Health of course is tied to what one does on a daily basis to try to preserve it. Some attempts are futile, most aren't. Some people understand that early on, most don't.

I'm proud to say that my life allowed me to sin for a major part. A lot. Heaps more than most people I guess. I have seen more dawns than twilights, so to speak. Because life in general was generous to me (well, even during the war it was rewarding in many ways when I think of it), serenity prevailed by far over all of my days. When you're young, you are supposed to be all kinds of things when you grow up and you can of course do anything, including becoming an ''adult'' while still underage, because you need to keep up with the boys from your quarter, all of whom are your seniors by quite some years.

You cannot afford to be called a sissy if you didn't smoke, which you would be. At least back then. So I started smoking when I had barely reached the ''ripe old age'' of 16, when of course I knew everything there was to know about life, as did you, I'm sure. Later on, in the long years of studying and then freelancing around the world, partying and booze came into the picture, too, inevitably. Not that I'd get wasted every night, of course, but, well, there was lots of partying and many dawns, and many an estranged taxi taking me to where my bed was while missing my sunglasses and a bottle of water most desperately.

I remember discovering ''The Memories of Hadrian'' somewhere in my early twenties and re-reading that book several times over. Among quite a few memorable points, despite myself being young and utterly healthy, my mind recorded that moment when Hadrian started to become tired of his body which was becoming a nuisance, a traitor, limiting and disabling him. Almost one half of a century later, Hadrian has come to my mind so many, many a time. What a piece of work is man, Master Shakespeare wondered. Indeed.

When you think how you hated your granny (and your mother, and aunt and practically every adult around) who scorned you for not wearing a sweater, not having your shirt tucked in properly, sitting on cold concrete that would certainly make your kidneys ''go bad'', for going out (on a date possibly) with your hair still wet from the shower as a safe way of getting meningitis and inflamed sinuses, not to talk about lessons on how bad smoking is for you and how alcohol damages your liver… But who would listen? All of those irritating pontifications might have been true, but they had nothing to do with you whatsoever in your mind.

And then, how many times have you heard that somebody died of ''a sudden heart attack''? Sudden!?  It took almost all my life so far for me to learn that there is no such thing as a sudden heart attack. Such events, rare as they are, are freak ones. Every stroke or heart attack has its silent and deadly history built up in the years, it has its progress and, especially its cause(s) that live with you for a long time before that. You pay no attention, and then you're suddenly being transported to an emergency ward. Genetics play a role of course, but the cause is - you. Or, in my case - me. Also because my granny got on my nerves so much. 

The experience I had was more that terrible, and I want to share some of it.

I was in London some eight years ago when the very first rays of warning shone up inside my brain. One day I was walking from an underground station to the house of my friends where I stayed. It was an everyday routine, nothing special, and quite a short distance too. I might have been less than 100 metres from the house when I felt my right calf suddenly become stiff, further steps were oddly difficult, I started limping and hardly made it to the gate. The remaining several days were highly marked by that. I had pains when walking, I could not walk for long, either. It was sudden. It was frightening. That is when I was reminded of the not-so-good genetics pertaining to arteries in my family. There I was. It has caught up with me despite my lack of attention. I should have listened.

Back in Zagreb I hardly made it upstairs, dragging a suitcase along with me to my apartment at the same time. All alarms then began ringing inside me. This was no pulled muscle, and no self-resolving, passing ailment. One or two calls to my friends sent me to a hospital right away. There was a clog in my artery that had stopped the flow of blood to my leg almost completely and the operation, performed under local anaesthesia, was carried out by a young doctor who I made laugh heartily while he dealt with the clog.

When you must not move an eyelash for almost two hours, it feels much longer than it is.  I was alone in a spacious room, I had a TV, my own internet and actually had a good time within the circumstances, however ''disturbed'' by frequent check-ups and controls by medics. The care was total and complete and made me feel safe and comfortable. It was proof that the Croatian public health system, while underfunded, was beyond excellent.

This happened somewhere exactly around Easter Day and I was glad I could avoid traditional lunches and coloured eggs. That’s for kids, I find. Five days later I was back in the normal world with a clean artery and feeling quite good, quite normal again. I avoided driving and public transportation and walked everywhere I could. That is how you control cardiovascular diseases which only require conservative treatment. I soon forgot about that.

Pain gone and experience fading, I soon regained my old lifestyle. A thousand parties and no work, as Gertrude Stein defined the Thirties in Paris. Well, almost. Freelancing allows for that, as anyone who has dabbled in that knows well.

As a heavily addicted smoker, I wasn't aware of what I was silently but lethally doing to myself. Friends and family would warn and rebuke me, some strongly. I continued believing that the slogans on tobacco packages about death, cancer and other pretty things could not possibly affect me. Larger than life I was. Isn't cognitive dissonance a strange thing?

I could not bring to my awareness that getting out from a warm restaurant into freezing rain just to have a smoke made my granny turn in her grave while my arteries were getting more and more clogged by the day, by every single puff on a cigarette, by every single drag. My life was so good again, so why should I listen?

Some years went by, the uneasy feeling in my legs was growing once again, slowly but constantly, until I reached the stage when I could barely make a distance of 50 metres and was in almost constant discomfort. My calf writhing with each step as my body desperately tried to transport adequate oxygenated blood. In vain.  

It was a wonderful evening with a gang of friends of an international composition, with so much fun, laughter, totally uninhibited by ''Weltschmerz'' and the futility of life. When we had to change the place because of a rapidly approaching closing time, I realised I would hardly make it on foot.  The other place was less than 200 metres away. The final alarm was on. Again.

One call to a doctor friend put me in hospital almost the same day. During the first check-ups it seemed it was to be an easy intervention, then they took some blood, did some tests and found out that my blood sugar was above 20. It was too dangerous to operate. I was diabetic too, apparently. I had no idea what my body was suffering from, how could I have been so detached? How dare I feel surprised by my neglect? It was almost one week before they managed to bring it down to an operable stage.

I had peripheral arterial disease. An incurable but controllable arterial disease which affects the limbs, mainly the legs. My femoral artery was entirely clogged, and so were some others. Well, there we go. Another operation, a big one this time, with general anaesthetic and consent forms galore. I woke up after some hours, the doctors couldn't believe how brilliant my readings suddenly were, how my body which obviously was in dire need bounced straight back after being given what it needed. Instead of a longer sojourn in intensive care, I was taken quite quickly back to my room to recover. Yet again, more very good care at the hospital, another operation gone well, expertly well. It made me think of all those accolades Croatian medicine has been getting from all over the world. It is very deserved. Take it from me.

A few more years passed by. My left leg still had a few problems, some due to nerve damage following surgery, but it was truly nothing in comparison to how I felt before that last operation. I got used to stopping when I walked, waiting for a minute or two when I experienced claudication, and continuing. Naturally, I didn't feel enthusiastic about walking at all. My legs felt heavy and not willing to be exposed to any strain. Because of the pain it caused, although that pain was actually my saviour which would help to treat my disease, I started avoiding going anywhere on foot.

Unlike that first time, the famous blue Zagreb trams became my favourite way of moving around the city, and driving too. Then, my doctor scolded me, telling me that I must walk, walk and walk some more. By walking and straining the legs, you help your body develop more collateral blood paths, you help your heart, you help your - everything. I did reduce my nicotine intake, with lots of effort and self-control, but I could not abandon it altogether. By the way, for all you dirty smokers out there - I reduced the number of cigarettes by allowing myself to smoke only on the terrace, outside, never  inside the house. It helped. Maybe you could try that, too. It was quite an achievement for me who once smoked 40 per day, but I still couldn't quite kick it to the curb. Idiotic, I know.

My close friend, Lauren, started to force me to walk. We'd take long walks, not just to a cafe. She would get me to do it daily, again and again. I felt better. The splendid Maksimir Park offers infinite combinations and paths to stroll, for as long as you can or want to. I was forced to make at least 6000 - 7000 steps each time. For orientation, I could make some 200 in one go. Imagine the effort! I had to stop many times, but I did it. Never without losing my breath, panting or anything, never feeling that my heart was suffering. But to tell the truth, my physical condition was not exceedingly good. To put it modestly.

Fast-foward to April 2021. The leaves on the trees were turning green, everything was in blossom, Maksimir Park looks truly fabulous at that time of year, permeated with the birds’ twitter and the gentle breeze in the thick tree tops. As nice as all that is, as a Dalmatian from Dubrovnik, I was craving the sea. Addicted to the sea and, especially, to swimming - at least for 6 months a year, usually - I started coining my plan to go to the coast much earlier than usual and to make the ''summer'' a very long one indeed. I decided to have myself checked properly, to be sure I could spend several months in a village, far from my doctor friends in case, God forbid, I needed one. 

I contacted my friend, a renowned vascular surgeon from Zagreb, and asked him if he would be willing to check me up ''properly'', with scans and the works, as I really wanted to know what was going on inside me, especially inside my arteries. At one of those check-ups, I ''demanded'' that he check my heart. Without any apparent sign of anything. I just wanted to be sure. It might have been genetic hint from some of my ancestors from ''up there''. I had no cardiac symptoms that I could discern, it just came out of the blue.

How unfortunately right I was! My blood pressure was through the roof. I was suffering from hypertension which is high blood pressure, a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause heart disease. The ultrasound not only found some other little flaws in my heart, but three main arteries were more or less clogged. I needed a triple coronary bypass in an emergency procedure. I was ordered to stay in the hospital that same moment. In other words, I had to be under permanent custody, linked up to various monitors, as my heart could collapse under the strain at any moment. How and why I had not had a massive heart attack during those thousands of steps in Maksimir Park will remain a secret forever. A miracle, in fact, as told to me by my doctor.

An important reminder: there are very, very few sudden heart attacks. They only hit suddenly, when the silently struggling heart can no longer cope.

I did not have a heart attack, as the intervention occurred just before the inevitable happened, and I did not fear one. I told myself I should have that operation as soon as possible in order to be able to - go to the sea. Baby steps.

I spent two weeks in an utterly nice, freshly renovated ward, feeling alright under the constant telemetric control. I became used to the idea that I must remember the cables attached to me round the clock. To me, there were no signs or signals that my heart was penting up to provide enough oxygenated blood to the rest of me. Once again, to praise the Croatian public health system, it is so good when there is a bunch of communicative doctors and, especially, nurses with who you can share a laugh or two. 

I loved the sliding doors that saved everybody from being woken up by doors slamming somewhere down the corridor. I ignored the fact that I was confined, in detention, it was for my sake and for my good. I also ignored the fact that the pandemic and the inability to have visitors made this period of isolation more conspicuous, in some cases even very cruel. I had all the care I needed, my doctor friend (from another ward) would visit sometimes bringing with him absolute confidence and peace to my soul.

Tests, scans, readings, as the big day arrived. Taken by an ambulance to the central hospital to be operated on, an efficient nurse accompanied me to my new room and a new roommate, and luckily a very funny one. Sarcasm is one of my favourite assistants. New doctors, kind and caring nurses. Preparations for the operation, some not pleasant at all, but all done with patience and total care. The Croatian public health system succeeded very well in making me feel safe, despite all the huge question marks and worries hovering in the air and above my own head. 

The surgery was done. I woke up feeling that I was tied to a bed in an unknown space. It was so dark, just one lamp offered a slip of light somewhere in the distance, at some corner or something, my anaesthetic-induced blurry vision and confusion limited my understanding of my surroundings. My throat felt as if it had been cleaned out by a bit of aged sandpaper. I needed water. I tried to yell, but I produced no sound. I realised I was still intubated. I was helpless. I needed water. There was an attentive nurse on the sentinel who discerned my growling sounds in the dark. It wasn't just water this time, it was the blessing of all the Gods that ever existed to me at that moment. Sleep. More water. Several rounds, a few tests. After some indefinite time, they rolled me back to my room. 

The time of colliding with reality, with the seriousness of my body, had come to me. Thank you, Hadrian, you were so right and I hope you were not this sick and unable. I felt like a broken piece of old furniture chucked out into the street from the fifth floor. One slightest move of any part of my body hurt like hell. I felt like I couldn't breathe properly. I needed air. I needed water. I could not get up. I was even afraid to move my head on the pillow so as to avoid more possible pain. I was just one huge battlefield of all kinds of pains spiced with a total lack of energy, breathlessness and a most absolute state of helplessness. I had done it. I'd reached the absolute pits of my life, the lowest point, a very, very miserable point at that.

All I wanted and could do was sleep, but the attentive staff would not let me enter into a deep and healing slumber, they were in every hour to check on me properly. The care was total, but also irritating. I should've been grateful, not irritated. Yet I was helplessly irritated and wanted only to be left alone. 

The very next day there was a guy of very athletic physique who had a very deep and commanding voice: ''Get up, we're going for a walk!'' the voice said above me.

''For a what? You must be kidding, I can hardly lie on this bed…''

''You must walk, come on, get up!''

I thought I would die right there and then, and the post-operation ordeal seemed totally pointless. He helped me out of my bed with his strong arms, I let out a shriek as my entire body stiffened into a complete and utter pain. My legs were shaky, insecure, pains probed me at random everywhere. We did two lengths of the corridor. I lay back on the bed, depraved of life, in brief. I felt I'd done a marathon. They kept coming in and checking on me and asking me about this and that, taking my blood pressure, my temperature, giving me some pills, pain relief, food, checking on my wounds, measuring this, that, asking similar questions over and over. Irritating at the time, but what amazing care from the Croatian public health system this was.

My sarcastic roommate was released and it made me very sad back then, how I longed to leave this environment. Then, finally the day came when they told me I was going back to my original room in the hospital I was checked in at first. There I found out - I who have been fit and slim all my life, had lost a massive 8 kg. I dared to look at myself in the mirror and immediately thought I'd qualify as a photo model for a labour camp. Even my eyes had changed, they were sullen, sunken, looking back at me hopelessly from some hollow spaces, somehow from afar. My greying skin seemed to have belonged to someone bigger, my arms were like two pieces of dry smoked meat. It was horrendous.

After some days, some more blood tests, some more tests, some more questions, I was tested for covid and then released home. It was the very end of June. The temperature outside was around 30º C. I could make it to the kitchen owing to the help of my hands and door frames only, from one to another, aiming with concentration and focus. I had family there to help me and they couldn't do enough for me, which was a God send. My doctor friend came to check on me, to remove my stitches, to check my wounds. I began to walk, each day a little longer, I began to take my body as seriously as it had so nearly taken me for my negligence.

As I'm writing this six months later, I've put the weight I lost back on and I feel I belong to another, far more normal world with that wonderful sensation when you bend to pick something up and nothing hurts. I have taken up exercise regularly, even physiotherapy (another utterly professional service in the very heart of Zagreb), I try to walk as often as I can, to use my Orbitrek and, well, to be happy, meeting with friends for coffees and lunches with all serenity and joy, remembering well what Hadrian had eerily warned me of such long time ago.

Albeit at times when, indeed, there were also my grandparents and parents and aunts and uncles that I would not listen to regardless of their gender, age or advice. I was young enough to know everything, wasn’t I? Weren't we all?

Do not wait to be hit all of a sudden, don't harm your heart until it says no more, check your health thoroughly and profoundly, give up smoking (I know, it's preposterous coming from a filthy ex chain smoker of like 40 cigarettes a day), but if I can stop totally, you can too. Have a drink and be happy for as long as it lasts, because there is an expiry date and more often than not, it comes silently. 

Say what you want about Croatian corruption, politics, the lack of funding, the lack of... well, a lot. But Croatian public health stepped up and saved my life at the very last minute. There are a great many truly extraordinary doctors and other medical personnel in this country. Just in case you read this article with a cigarette in hand not having moved around for a few days... just sayin’. But why should you listen to me after all I have gone through? I'm not your mother, for God’s sake, so let me just wish you a Happy New Year - from my heart!

If you would like further reading material and/or if you're trying to stop smoking, it's worth noting that cardiovascular disease kill more people in Croatia than anything else. That's right, even the dreaded cancer comes second to the silent killer. Did you know there is an artery called the widow maker? There's a reason. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and accounts for more than half the overall mortality in this country. Furthermore, cardiovascular mortality has been constantly rising since the 1970s due to our dire habits.

Despite Croatia's observance of World no Tobacco Day, smoking is still killing many here, and it is continuing to cripple the Croatian public health system. Hrvatski dan nepusenja (The Croatian day of non-smoking) is also prominent. Can we reverse the trend? Be a part of it before it's too late.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Illegal Tobacco Market Costs Croatia €186m

ZAGREB, 13 June, 2021 - An estimated potential loss for the Croatian budget due to the illegal tobacco market in 2020 was HRK 1.4 billion, according to findings of a survey conducted by the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) and the Ipsos pollster.

The findings of the survey, conducted on a representative sample of 1,344 households with a total of 3,299 respondents, show a marked share of untaxed cigarettes and tobacco products used by consumers.

As many as 28.1% of adult Croatians are tobacco consumers, and 17% of tobacco products consumed in a year are illegal products, with illegal cut tobacco accounting for the largest portion.

As a result, in 2020 Croatia lost 1.4 billion kuna in tax revenue due to tobacco smuggling, HUP main economist Iva Tomić said last Wednesday at the presentation of the survey's findings.

Nearly 3 in 10 Croats aged over 18 are smokers

Davor Tolić of the Ipsos pollster said that 28.1% of adult Croatians consume tobacco products and they mainly smoke cigarettes, followed by cut tobacco.

The consumption of e-cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco and cigarillos amounted for less than 1% of the total consumption.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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Friday, 26 February 2021

Price of Croatian Tobacco Products to Rise as of Monday

February the 26th, 2021 - Croatian tobacco is set to see a price hike once again on the 1st of March, 2021 following a recent government session during which the matter of Croatian tobacco products and their excise duties was discussed.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at a recent government session, a decree was readily adopted which will increase excise duties placed on Croatian tobacco and related tobacco products from March the 1st this year, which will naturally lead to an increase in prices for the end user''The specific excise duty in the amount of 400 kuna per thousand cigarettes is increasing (when compared to the previous 370 kuna). The minimum excise duty will be increased to 888 kuna compared to the current 824 kuna.

The amount of excise duty for fine-cut tobacco is set to increase to 860 kuna per kilogram compared to 800 kuna, which is what it is now. Excise duties on heated tobacco products is what is set to increase the most - from the existing 800 kuna to as much as 1,400 kuna.

Excise duties placed on e-liquids aren't going to change price-wise,'' explained Finance Minister Zdravko Maric when discussing the upcoming Croatian tobacco product price increases. He also stated that the decision on the final price for consumers lies with the producers themselves, but also that according to the calculations of the Ministry of Finance, a pack of cigarettes should not increase by more than two kuna for the end consumer.

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Friday, 19 February 2021

Quarter of Smokers in Croatia Smoke More Because of Pandemic and Earthquakes

ZAGREB, 19 February, 2021 - One in four smokers in Croatia smokes more than before as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and last year's devastating earthquakes, a survey conducted by Ja Trgovac magazine and the Hendal market research agency shows.

The survey of tobacco consumption habits in Croatia was carried out in January on a nationally representative sample of citizens aged 18 and over.

A quarter of smokers interviewed, namely 26%, said they smoked more, while 18.5% said they smoked less. On the other hand, 56% said that the coronavirus outbreak did not affect their smoking habits.

Most of smokers (41.5%) spend up to HRK 200 (€26.5) a month on tobacco products and 32.8% up to HRK 500 (€66.5)). 22% spend up to HRK 1,000 (€133) and 3.7% more than HRK 1,000.

33.9% of respondents said they used tobacco products (cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, new generation products such as IQOS and glo, cigars or rolling tobacco), while 66.1% said they did not use tobacco products.

The survey revealed that cigarettes were the most popular tobacco product, used by 76% of consumers, ahead of rolling tobacco (22.9%), new generation products (13.2%), e-cigarettes (12.2%), cigars (1.4%) and chewing tobacco (0.4%). 1.4% of tobacco product consumers said they used something else.

70.4% of smokers buy tobacco products at newsagents', 46.1% do so at petrol stations, 42.5% at supermarkets, 36.4% in local shops and 16% in specialised tobacco shops. On the other hand, 9.1% buy tobacco products on the black market.

Monday, 31 August 2020

From October You Can Bring Only 2 Packs Of Cigarettes Into Croatia

August 31, 2020 – From October, you'll only be able to bring 2 packs of cigarettes or 50 grams of tobacco into Croatia from countries outside the EU, say new proposals. Day trips across the Bosnian or Serbian border for cheap smokes will be a lot less cost-effective.

Croatians who smoke and who live within easy driving distance of the Bosnian or Serbian border have had it good for quite a while. They've been able to skip across to the other side, pick up their smokes for the week, and save a lot of money by doing so.

This wasn't really illegal, but these golden days will be over from October 2020. Under new proposals, you'll only be able to bring 2 packs of cigarettes into Croatia from any non-EU country. The new proposals reduce the amount previously considered personal luggage by five times. You can currently carry 10 packs (200 cigarettes) across the border. 2 packs (40 cigarettes) is considerably less and will make the journey much less cost-effective.

The new proposals also extend to rolling tobacco in the same percentages. Instead of the current 250 grams of tobacco you're currently permitted to bring into the country from outside the EU, the amount will be reduced to just 50 grams.

Annual cigarette consumption in Croatia is a lot bigger than 2 packs of cigarettes. It is estimated at more than 300 million packs. The latest estimates say that around 7% of consumption uses non-taxable cigarettes. Such non-taxable tobacco products usually carry the tax stamp of Bosnia and Herzegovina, sometimes Serbia, and sometimes no stamp at all. This non-taxable section of the total is estimated to be worth between 500 and 600 million kuna.

Last year, the Croatian state budget collected 5.11 billion kuna from tobacco excise duties. In more than 16.2 billion of total excise revenues, only those from petroleum products are higher.

Although it is calculated that smoking in Croatia is decreasing in popularity, thanks, in part to anti-smoking health campaigns and rising prices, state revenues from tobacco excise duties have actually grown over the past five years.

Between excise duties and VAT, the Croatian state budget collects close to six and a half billion kuna from the sale of cigarettes and tobacco. This is almost 8% of the total tax revenues of the state budget.

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Monday, 29 October 2018

Economic Boost: BAT Considering Moving Production to Croatia?

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 29th of October, 2018, in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, more than 40 percent of tobacco products end up being exported outside of the legal trade framework, and the main culprit for such a situation is poverty and disproportionately high yields on cigarettes and tobacco products. Could a potential move of production to Croatia provide a welcome economic boost for the country?

Even though British American Tobacco (BAT) have denied media speculation that they already started with the move of the production of their cigarettes from Bosnia and Herzegovina to their plants in both Croatia and in Serbia, they haven't gone as far as to totally exclude such a possibility in the forthcoming period.

Namely, the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina have announced that BAT's management board has decided that Aurora, Code and Diva cigarettes will be moved away from production in Sarajevo to neighbouring countries.

BAT, on the other hand, told Poslovni Dnevnik that producion at the Sarajevo Tobacco Factory (FDS) hasn't stopped.

"As BAT has bought FDS's brands, it is following the policy of producing and selling according to the smokers' preferences and in accordance with market conditions,'' they stated from the company.

Unfortunately, due to the large disturbances on Bosnia and Herzegovina's market caused by an increase in excise duties and the concerning collapse of the legal market by more than 35 percent in just three years alone, the sale and distribution of FDS former brands are not compromised, but all of BAT's other brands and other competitors on the market have been, and they therefore continue to face numerous unwanted challenges in this regard.

''On the illegal market itself, more than 80 illegally produced brands have appeared. Because of all of this, the future of production, the former brands of FDS, and of all the other legally produced brands on the Bosnian market is questionable,'' BAT explained.

They added that the black tobacco market is a major problem for this whole region, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina, where it exceeds a worrying 40 percent of the total market value. The main reason for this is the high tax burden because Bosnia and Herzegovina has the highest cigarette retail selling taxes in Europe, with the total costs representing 91 percent of the price of the cigarettes themselves.

Because of this, people in Bosnia and Herzegovina pay by far the most for cigarettes compared to the general standard of living in the rest of Europe, naturally leading them into a very tight corner, and then onto the illegal market, meaning that the economic repercussions of Bosnia's black market problems are dire, to say the very least.

BAT has estimated that Bosnia and Herzegovina's budget loses more than 230 million KM (about 115 million euro) per capita each year due the strong presence of the country's illicit tobacco market.

While Serbia, a non-EU country has been mentioned, could the safety of a European Union member state like Croatia be of some comfort to BAT and provide jobs and a possible economic boost to the domestic market if production was to be moved here?

Find out more about business in Croatia by following our business page.

Click here for the original article by Darko Bicak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Alcohol and Tobacco Prices Have Risen by More Than 100% in Last 20 Years

While the price of alcohol and cigarettes have shot up, costs relating to the healthcare service have increased alongside them.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

More Ease of Access for Croatian Tobacco on Foreign Markets?

Welcome news for Croatian tobacco producers as a new law being prepared will enable them to organise their sales themselves.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Dubrovnik! A Smoke-Free Place! Well, Almost

This one should not be taken lightly, as it comes by someone who has rolled God knows how many cigarettes in his long life.

Monday, 10 August 2015

New Rules for Cigarettes Users and Producers in Croatia

Some changes in the cigarette industry in Croatia.

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