Fears over smoking ban laxness

Anti-smoking campaigners have started lobbying authorities to issue a government decision to ensure the implementation of a blanket ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and businesses as the new law is to come into effect in less than a week. Members of the No Smoke group said they have been urging swift action from officials at the Health, Interior and Economy ministries – which are due to issue the decision on the implementation of the ban jointly – as the edict is set to come into effect on September 1. «Without the issuance of a joint ministerial decision and an explanatory circular, inspections and the imposition of penalties on offenders will not be possible,» the president of No Smoke, Alexandros Fotinos, told Kathimerini. Meanwhile, many owners and managers of bars and cafes are expressing concern ahead of the implementation of the smoking ban, as they fear it will aggravate the slump in business they have seen since the onset of the economic crisis. According to Ilias Hatzivassiloglou, the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, bar and restaurant owners saw their revenues drop 6 percent last year when the previous conservative government introduced a law restricting smoking in public places. Now, with the blanket ban, «revenues will plummet,» he said. Sources at the Health Ministry told Kathimerini there would be no problem with the implementation of the blanket ban, noting that any «loose ends» would be tied up before the new law comes into effect. When the blanket ban is imposed, no smoking will be allowed in public places, meaning that bars, clubs and restaurants will no longer be allowed to operate smoking and nonsmoking areas and companies will no longer be able to have smoking rooms on their premises.