Friday, March 14, 2008

PM forgets own laws

Lithuania's pipe-smoking prime minister said Thursday he would pay a euro290 (US$435) fine for violating a ban on lighting up in public establishments. Gediminas Kirkilas told national radio he had agreed to pay the fine that was levied on a bar in the Baltic Sea port town of Klaipeda.

"I'm to blame for this. I simply forgot that we can no longer smoke inside bars. I will cover this fine for the bar," Kirkilas said.

Lithuania's smoking ban, passed in 2006, punishes restaurants and bars for violations rather than the patrons who light up. The move sparked public outcry, but the ban was not reversed.

Kirkilas had been sitting with neighboring Latvia's Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis in the cafe last month when he decided to light up his pipe.

The Lithuanian leader has smoked a pipe for decades, and has refused to give up the habit despite criticism from the Health Ministry.

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