Smoking permits could bypass ban

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos is expected to announce on Tuesday changes to the ban on smoking in enclosed spaces, which began, to much fanfare, last September but which has been enforced only sporadically.

It is expected that Loverdos will announce that some establishments will be able to purchase a license that will allow their customers to smoke on the premises. It is not clear if this measure will apply just to large nightclubs and casinos or to smaller establishments as well. It is estimated that the government could gain at least 50 million euros from issuing such licenses.

The amendment will come as a disappointment to anti-smoking campaigners but reflects the inability of municipalities to conduct the checks needed and to penalize businesses that fail to follow the rules. In Athens, some 450 penalty notices have been issued since last September.