NEWS

In a first test, Greek gov’t vows to stub out public smoking

PENNY BOULOUTZA

TAGS: Health

In an early test of its effectiveness, Greece’s new conservative government has pledged to crack down on smoking in enclosed public spaces, finally putting into force a law that was introduced about ten years ago.

The government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, himself a staunch anti-smoker, hopes that fines and vigilance will work after similar attempts to implement the ban were largely ignored. The campaign will initially focus on public buildings including Parliament, ministries, hospitals, schools and other places where social services are provided.

Authorities plan to carry out spot checks at public buildings to send a message of zero-tolerance. Meanwhile, the government is eyeing legal adjustments that will allow the regular police officers to carry out surprise checks at bars, cafes and restaurants. These have so far been restricted to the municipal police, coast guard, local authorities and state health inspectors.

An online platform will be set up to facilitate public complaints about those who breach the ban while the hotline for reporting violations will be reactivated.

Officials will also launch a campaign to boost public awareness of the dangers of both active and passive smoking.

Greeks have reported the highest rates of exposure to passive smoking in bars and restaurants (87 and 78 percent respectively) in the European Union.

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