Greece agreed to the EU-wide ban on tobacco advertising yesterday, effectively banning the promotion of cigarettes in printed media, radio and over the Internet. In a country where lighting up is second nature and advertisements for cigarettes abound, perhaps it was no surprise the government missed the July 31 deadline for adopting the Tobacco Advertising Directive, passed by the European Parliament in 2003. However, the ministers of interior, health, finance and state yesterday signed up to the ban, which EU officials hope will help cut down on some 650,000 deaths each year within the Union which are attributed to smoking-related diseases. Sponsorship by tobacco companies of cross-border cultural and sporting events also falls under the ban. However advertising in cinemas, on billboards and at local events will still be allowed. The law is expected to come into effect in Greece in September once the penalties for offenders have been ratified.