Greece aims to extinguish its addiction to smoking
Thursday 02 September 2010
A fresh crackdown on smoking started in Greece yesterday, with the government outlawing cigarettes in enclosed public spaces and placing new limits on tobacco advertising.
Under new regulations, anyone who breaks the rules by lighting up indoors in public will face fines of between €50 and €400. Business owners could be fined up to €10,000 or lose their licences.
It is the second such attempt to curb tobacco addiction in Europe's biggest-smoking nation in just over a year. It is estimated that more than 40 per cent of Greek adults smoke – well above the EU's average of 29 per cent.
Prime Minister, George Papandreou, says the smoking ban is aimed at protecting public health.
He said: "It will contribute to the work we're doing that's aimed at changing attitudes, norms and behaviour to improve our quality of life." As well as an advertising campaign, the health drive will involve the distribution of an anti-tobacco board game to children.
But many people are sceptical about the likely efficacy of the ban. Previous efforts to dissuade Greek smokers have proven in vain, and the country gets through 32 billion cigarettes every year, at a cost of €4.5bn. The total health costs to the country are about €2bn. Heavy rises in taxes on tobacco have had little effect.
Last year's measures were largely ignored by the public, with their swift failure blamed on too many exceptions, lax policing and a reluctance to impose fines. The more stringent rules this time around have not proved popular amongst smokers.
"It's a fascist measure. There can be separate venues for non-smokers," says Dimitris Parchas, 63, a lift technician, sipping his grainy Greek coffee in a traditional café in Athens, where men traditionally go to play backgammon and cards – and smoke, of course. "I will keep on smoking", he insists. "And if they fine me, they can send the fine to the central tax revenue service. We don't have any money to pay."
The ban has prompted fears of a decline in business for bars and restaurants, particularly when an eight-month exception has been granted to multi-seat live music venues – the notorious bouzoukia clubs – and to casinos. "A measure should be imposed on everybody or on no one. We are also professionals", says Yannis Alabanos, co-owner of Galaxy bar in central Athens. But, he adds, "it might be bad for business but it will be good for public health".
- 2 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 3 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 4 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...