Dr Panagiotis Behrakis, director of the Institute of Public Health at the American College of Greece, who is heading a council of experts steering the Greek government’s anti-smoking campaign, said he believes Greek society is ready for a full enforcement of the ban.
“When a newly elected prime minister, with an overwhelming majority, clearly prioritizes the issue and expresses strong will for the universal implementation of the law, there is no chance of losing. For the first time, I am optimistic. After all, the conditions have matured,” he told Kathimerini.
Behrakis says progress has already been made, with a change in mentality among the young, a reduction in the number of smokers, and implementations of the ban at private businesses. “However, public sector workers and senior officials continued to smoke at work,” he says.
“Top government officials should not be permitted to break the law without losing their positions. They have vowed to abide by the laws of the state, they are… responsible for the implementation of those provisions. If they violates them, they have no right to remain in the government.”
Behrakis said the smoking ban should be a topic of consensus, not dispute. “With the active input of all stakeholders, we will succeed in enforcing the law if they understand the following: We are not persecuting smokers; we are simply protecting non-smokers.”
He said inspections and fines are needed, but they will never replace the essence of the problem, which is mutual respect.