Smoking restraints being flouted

Nearly four months after European Union-dictated restrictions on smoking in public places came into effect in Greece, authorities in Athens and Thessaloniki have reported hundreds of complaints by nonsmokers claiming that the new regulations are being flouted. State inspectors have carried out about 350 spot checks in the two cities in recent months and municipal authorities in the two cities have received around 2,500 complaints. One of the problems in Athens is that hundreds of cafe and bar owners who have applied for licenses to designate their establishments as smoking areas have yet to receive approval. Of some 2,200 applications for smoking licenses, none have been approved. Municipal officials say this is not their fault. «All the applications were incomplete, none contained the necessary documents,» Deputy Mayor Andreas Papadakis told Kathimerini. In Thessaloniki, the process of granting such licences has been much smoother. Municipal authorities in the northern port city say they have issued smoking licenses to all 280 bars and restaurants that requested them. A ministerial decision by the previous conservative government, which the new Socialist administration has said it might revise, had dictated that owners of premises of less than 70 square meters would have to decide whether they were to be exclusively smoking or nonsmoking. Those that decide to allow smoking are obliged to have their operating licenses revised, have adequate air-conditioning units installed and display a special sticker determining their status. According to the same decision, larger establishments must restrict smoking to a separate section on the premises.