On the occasion of World No Smoking Day on Tuesday, the Hellenic Anti-cancer Institute has called on the government to redouble efforts to enforce an anti-smoking ban in restaurants, bars and other public places but also to extend the ban to children’s playgrounds, beaches and squares.
The institute called on the government to work harder to enforce anti-smoking laws and to also adopt European legislation as relates to tobacco product packaging, where the health warning covers most of the package.
Authorities are also being pressed to make greater efforts to protect children from secondhand smoke by banning smoking in playgrounds, on beaches, in city squares and other public places frequented by children.
In a new campaign, the institute is also trying to appeal to Greeks’ pockets, noting that if someone put aside the money they would otherwise spend on cigarettes from the age of 18 to retirement, they would secure a 760-euro monthly pension payout while also improving their health and life expectancy.
The head of a state committee for curbing smoking in public places, Panagiotis Behrakis, on Monday accused the government of being a “passive observer of the most serious public health issue of the day.”
The comment came as a photograph showing Health Minister Pavlos Polakis smoking during a press conference at the Health Ministry went viral on social media Monday.
Meanwhile Deputy Health Minister Theodoros Pelegrinis said smoking cannot be curbed by laws but by changing the mentality of youngsters. He based his observation on a recent survey of primary school students which found that 16.7 percent of respondents had tried smoking at least once, that 9.2 percent had smoked once in the past month while 30 percent are passive smokers in the home as their parents smoke.