Young smokers light up freely

Greeks are among the heaviest smokers in Europe, with 50,000 young people taking up the habit each year undeterred by evidence that a quarter of them will die of smoking-related diseases, experts said yesterday. In a country where almost half the men and well over a third of the women smoke, a total of some 6,000 people die each year in Greece from lung cancer brought on by the habit. The statistics were presented yesterday during a press conference held by anti-smoking campaigners and the Greek Cardiology Center ahead of International Anti-smoking Day on Tuesday. Campaigners pressed for stiffer anti-smoking measures and smoke-free spaces to be adopted, saying that in the 22 out of the 25 countries that adhered to tighter regulations, the number of smokers had been reduced by a fifth. However, a poll found that 85 percent of Greeks did not believe there were any health problems came from inhaling secondhand smoke. A study also found that 10 percent of youngsters – 200,000 in total – aged 12 to 18 smoked.