More than 600,000 Greeks suffer from an acute and, in the long term, fatal form of smokers’ cough, experts warned yesterday, adding that over half of all patients don’t realize that they are ill. Professor Panayiotis Behrakis, head of the Hellenic Thoracic Society (HTS), told a press conference that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is mainly caused by smoking. However, as some 56 percent of all sufferers remain blissfully ignorant of their affliction, about one out of every two patients continues to smoke. COPD starts with a cough and phlegm that leads to increasing difficulty in breathing. In the final stages, patients end up bedridden, attached to an oxygen tank. Doctors said all smokers aged over 35 should undergo tests for COPD. Today, HTS members will be conducting free tests at Kotzia Square in central Athens, from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.