A hotline set up for citizens to report violations of the smoking ban in public spaces received hundreds of calls in its first day of operation, it was revealed on Wednesday. Out of the 235 calls received by the Health Ministry’s 1142 hotline, 66 were by citizens asking for information on the law, 58 were reports of violations and 22 were people asking for help to quit smoking.
Citizens calling the hotline have to give their name, and their report is then forwarded to the authorities tasked with conducting inspections – the Greek Police, municipal police, health or port authorities – to be verified. The first fines were imposed in the town of Lamia in central Greece on Wednesday, where a cafe owner and a customer were ordered to pay 500 and 100 euros respectively.
The Hellenic Thoracic Society also called for the development of programs aimed at helping people to give up smoking on the occasion of the World Day for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on Wednesday.
In Greece, 8.4 percent of adult smokers have the disease, or around 600,000 people, of whom more than half (56 percent) are unaware of their health status. This explains why half of those with COPD continue to smoke.
The disease is more common in men and the agricultural population (15.1 pct in rural areas, versus 6 pct in Athens), who, according to experts, smoke more and is more exposed to tobacco (due to long stays in closed cafes).