City Hall ramps up smoking ban inspections

Municipal officers charged with checking whether a ban on smoking in public places is being enforced have cranked up inspections on bars, restaurants and cafes in Athens but local authorities are complaining that there are insufficient officers available to carry out effective sweeps.

Around 50 officers from the capital?s 1,000-strong municipal police force are being sent out daily to visit bars and restaurants up until 9 p.m. After this time, inspections are arranged in response to complaints about violations lodged with the authorities.

According to Deputy Mayor Anastasios Avrantinis, there are too few officers covering the smoking ban inspection beat. ?Even if the entire municipal police force were carrying out inspections, there would still not be enough to monitor Athens,? Avrantinis said on Wednesday, noting that municipal officers also had other duties to fulfill, such as ticketing illegally parked vehicles and guarding public buildings.

Last week 260 inspections were carried out, leading to 49 fines being issued to business owners and customers. Offenders have been told that they will only have to pay half the amount of the fine if they pay it within 15 days of its issuance.