Bill to stub out youth smoking

A new law aimed at preventing adolescents from smoking, currently in draft form, foresees a ban on the sale of cigarettes to under-18s, a crackdown on smoking in Internet cafes and the creation of a special team of inspectors to ensure the new restrictions are enforced, it was revealed yesterday. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who announced the bill earlier this month, took the opportunity to unveil additional proposals yesterday on the occasion of World No-Tobacco Day. «Dependence on smoking tobacco is a sickness and should be treated as such,» Avramopoulos said. The bill is to be supplemented with several new proposals before being tabled in Parliament. Apart from the original suggestion of a ban on the sale of tobacco to under-18s, it also envisages a ban on the sale of 10-packs of cigarettes, generally favored by youngsters as they are cheaper. Another provision calls for a clarification to be printed on cigarette packs, next to the health warning, stipulating that they are not to be sold to under-18s. To enforce this, the ministry is planning to set up a special team of inspectors to conduct checks on outlets selling cigarettes. The sale of cigarettes through vending machines would also be banned, according to the draft law, which will also prohibit the use of promotional messages maintaining that some tobacco products are less harmful than others. The minister said he was determined to enforce the current ban on smoking in public places, stressing that «the era of arbitrariness ends today. Those who do not abide by the law will face severe consequences.»

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