Smokers lighting up across Greece

Smokers in Greece are bucking a European trend by increasing in number, according to figures from the National Statistics Service (NSS) which were made public yesterday and indicate that almost 42 percent of Greeks over 14 years old smoke. The most serious smokers are those aged between 35 and 44. The NSS, which questioned 17,386 people from around Greece, found that almost 60 percent of this age group are smokers. But younger Greeks are also picking up the habit. The survey found that 57 percent of Greeks aged 25-34 smoked regularly and almost 15 percent of children under 18 are smokers. One-third of women and just over half of all Greek men smoke, spending between 500 and 1,000 euros a year on cigarettes. A pack of cigarettes costs around 2.80 euros and Greeks spend large sums indulging their habit. Men aged between 35-44 have the most costly outlay, spending 945 euros a year on cigarettes, while women smokers from the same age group fork out 589 euros on average. While carrying out its survey between February 2004 and January 2005, the NSS discovered that the number of cigarettes smoked in Greece had actually risen over the previous decade. Contrary to the trend in many EU countries, some of which already ban smoking in public spaces, 10 percent more cigarettes were being smoked in Greece in 2004 than a decade earlier.