NEWS

Blanket smoking ban on the cards

Smoking will soon be banned in all public places in Greece, according to new regulations being prepared by the Health Ministry, sources have told Sunday’s Kathimerini. Greece launched a new smoking ban last summer, when New Democracy was in power, but convoluted rules and lack of enforcement have led to its failure. Now, the PASOK government believes it has come up with a more successful formula to stamp out smoking. In measures that could be announced today, World No Tobacco Day, Health Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou is likely to say that within the year smoking will be banned in all public places, including bars and restaurants. All establishments will be given a period of grace to adjust to the new rules but it is thought that the legal framework for enforcing them will be stricter than before. Also, it is likely that the municipal police will be asked to check that businesses are sticking to the rules. Current legislation leaves the checks up to local authorities, who say that they are overstretched and underfunded. It remains to be seen whether the new law will be any more successful at stopping smoking in Greece, where the first anti-smoking legislation was passed in 1856 amid fears that civil servants could cause fires in their offices. However, the recent rises in tobacco tax have had an effect on the number of cigarette packs being bought. The head of the union of kiosk owners, Yiannis Plakopoulos, told Sunday’s Kathimerini that sales have fallen by 10 percent this year. Plakopoulos suggested, though, that few people were actually giving up but were switching from expensive brands, where there has been a drop of about 20 percent, to cheaper ones.