Typically extolled by urbanites for promoting human contact in closely knit rural societies, the quintessentially Greek village coffee shop can destroy its patrons’ health, according to research published yesterday. A nationwide survey of 900 Greek smokers has found that 11.6 percent of the men and 4.8 percent of the women suffered from an acute form of smoker’s cough named Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). When narrowed down to male smokers, COPD was found to be over twice as common in the countryside (15 percent of smokers) as in Athens (7 percent). Professor Nikolaos Siafakas, who has headed the COPD research team for the Hellenic Thoracic Society (HTS), said this could be due to what he called «coffee shop pollution.» He said men in rural areas tend to congregate for long periods of time in smoke-filled coffee shops, where they inhale their own and other patrons’ cigarette smoke. Professor Panayiotis Behrakis, HTS chairman, warned that COPD kills 2.7 million people worldwide annually. Tomorrow, the HTS will set up booths in Athens and other cities where smokers can undergo COPD testing.