NEWS

Complaints about violations of smoking ban peak

The government?s appeals to citizens to blow the whistle on people violating a ban on smoking in public places appears to be working as the number of complaints telephoned into the Health Ministry?s hotline peaked last month with 3,943 calls.

A total of 15,356 complaints have been phoned into the 1142 hotline since September 1 last year, when the blanket ban was introduced, with the frequency of calls increasing as the government intensifies its campaign for the ban to be enforced and inspections by state officials are stepped up.

Of the 15,356 complaints registered with the phoneline, the overwhelming majority (13,124) were reporting alleged transgressions by the managers or patrons of bars or restaurants. Another 1,930 complaints regarded violations in the workplace (of these 1,189 in the state sector and 741 in the private sector). A total of 219 calls were made to report alleged cases of smoking in hospitals, 201 at schools or universities, 170 at prefectural and municipal offices and 54 in the offices or corridors of ministries. There were even a handful of complaints about managers and owners of street kiosks smoking, sources said.

Meanwhile, inspections on bars, restaurants and other public places have been ramped up and fines issued to offenders. The ministry?s general secretary, Antonis Dimopoulos, told Kathimerini that state officials had started conducting targeted inspections in municipalities where a proportionally large number of complaints have been lodged. Nearly half (45 percent) of the complaints made relate to alleged violations in Attica and another 20 percent in the region of central Macedonia.

According to ministry statistics, a total of 3,366 inspections were carried out nationwide last week, leading to 247 violations being recorded and 15 fines being imposed. A month ago – in the week from January 14 to 21 – officials had conducted 817 inspections.