A year on, smoking ban still flouted

A year since the introduction of a blanket ban on smoking in public places, businesses and smokers alike continue to flagrantly flout the law, according to statistics released on Tuesday by the Center for Infectious Diseases Control (KEEL), which has been running a telephone hotline informing citizens about the restrictions.

According to KEEL, a total of 30,878 complaints regarding alleged violations of the smoking ban have been telephoned in to the 1142 hotline since September 1 last year.

The overwhelming majority of these complaints – 27,260 – relate to alleged offenses committed in restaurants, bars and cafes. The hotline recorded 2,127 complaints about smoking in public sector offices and another 1,097 claims regarding smoking on the premises of private firm.

Nearly half (46.3 percent) of the complaints related to alleged offenses in Attica, which is home to around a third of the country?s 11-million-strong population. Another 17 percent of the claims related to transgressions in the northern port of Thessaloniki. The remaining allegations are spread more or less evenly across the rest of the country.

Of the 27,260 complaints reporting offenses in bars and restaurants, nearly half (12,502) were prompted by patrons smoking on the premises. Another 8,692 complaints were about the existence of ashtrays on the tables while 5,414 callers called to report bar or restaurant owners for allowing smoking in their establishments.

Complaints were also made about the illegal segregation of cafes and restaurants into smoking and non-smoking areas.

KEEL reported receiving 366 calls regarding smoking in state hospitals and another 288 about teachers smoking at school.

One positive side effect of the smoking ban, according to findings released by the Health Ministry in May is that half of Greek smokers claimed to have reduced their intake of tobacco since the introduction of the restrictions.