Smoking ban ‘no witch hunt’

Health Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou yesterday insisted that the enforcement of a blanket ban on smoking in public places, due to come into effect tomorrow, would be strict but would «not turn into a witch hunt.» September will be a transition period, the minister said, noting that those caught smoking in bars and restaurants would first be issued with a warning and would face a fine of 50 euros on the second transgression. The owners of bars and restaurants found to be tolerating smoking on their premises will not be so leniently dealt with by state inspectors: They will face fines ranging in size from 500 to 10,000 euros. The ban will also apply to all modes of public transport and to taxis, with drivers facing a 500-euro ban if they allow passengers to light up. Companies that turn a blind eye to staff smoking on their premises will also face penalties.