Bar staff hail smoking limits

As new data showed that more than eight out of 10 bar and cafe workers are in favor of an imminent ban on smoking in closed public places, President Karolos Papoulias became the first Greek citizen to sign a «charter for the rights and obligations of all for a smoke-free environment.» According to statistics made public yesterday by Yiannis Tountas, a professor of social medicine at Athens University, 86 percent of staff at the country’s bars and restaurants are looking forward to the imposition of severe restrictions on smoking in public places on July 1 that will bring Greece into line with European Union standards on curbing the risks posed by passive smoking. Tountas’s research showed that many nonsmoking staff suffered because of their smoky work conditions, with 25 percent developing a cough and 36.5 percent shortness of breath. It is hoped that this situation will improve after June 31, the deadline for bar and restaurant employers to create separate smoking sections. According to the Health Ministry’s legal spokesman Polykarpos Adamidis, these smoking sections should account for between 20 percent and 40 percent of the premises, unless the establishment is smaller than 70 square meters, in which case, the bar or restaurant owner must decide whether to declare the establishment exclusively smoking or nonsmoking. The ministry already has asked the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) to provide it with a list of all cafes, bars and restaurants with surface areas of less than 70 square meters, along with notes as to how many of these establishments have chosen to permit smoking. Meanwhile, Papoulias signed a new charter designed to sensitize the public to the importance of averting passive smoking. Papoulias described smoking as «one of the great ills of Greek society.»