Out-of-puff smokers unaware of illness

Greeks rank high among Europe’s heaviest smokers but half of them are unaware that what is commonly known as smoker’s cough could be the first signs of a serious lung disease, according to statistics made public yesterday. The head of Greece’s Pneumonological Society, Constantinos Gourgoulianis, presented the figures ahead of a day of awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) tomorrow. According to the professor, 8.4 percent of all Greeks suffer from the disease although in rural areas this rises to 15.1 percent. The news for urbanites is not much better as Athenians who are nonsmokers actually inhale the equivalent of up to four cigarettes a day from other people who do smoke. Anyone over the age of 30 who smokes and has a persistent cough or breathing problems is advised to see a doctor.