KOSOVO is the smoking capital of Europe, where relaxation, a cup of coffee and a cigarette go hand in hand, and where the infinitive of the verb "to smoke" - "pi" - is the same as "to drink".
The small internationally administered province, a third of the size of Wales and with an estimated population of 1.9 million Albanians and 100,000 Serbs, consumes a conservatively estimated 350 tons of cigarettes per month.
Not the place, one would think, where a proposed ban on smoking in public places would seem to be a workable idea.
Yet a draft smoking restriction law is sitting with the province’s Ministry of Health, one of many steps designed to bring the former Yugoslav province into line with European social practice.
Since the Serb soldiers and policemen of ex-Serb president Slobodan Milosevic pulled out of Kosovo in June 1999 after a 78-day Nato bombing campaign, the province has been run as an international protectorate by the UN, with 18,000 Nato troops currently stationed there for security.
Keen to take its place in the slow, shuffling queue for EU accession, Kosovo’s proposed law would see smoking banned in public places such as schools and hospitals.
The second step would be to totally ban smoking in public places, which would have a heavy impact on the nation’s cafe and bar culture.
"If they couldn’t smoke in our bar, all our customers would go somewhere they could," said Bunjamin Sefedini, a Kosovo Albanian waiter at Pristina’s Down Town bar.
Another side-effect of banning cigarette smoking in public places is that if public consumption decreases, then it would make it easier for UN and Kosovo national customs officials to track down the estimated 200 tons of contraband cigarettes passing through the country every month.