NEWS

Bars, eateries may snub smoking ban

Some restaurant and bar owners are planning a major act of civil disobedience this Sunday, as they intend to allow their customers to smoke even though a law banning people from lighting up in enclosed public spaces has been in effect since the beginning of the month. It emerged yesterday that the federation of restaurants and bars, POESE, which has 152 affiliated unions representing 121,000 businesses and some 400,000 workers, has decided to take drastic action against the recent smoking ban. Its president, Yiannis Tsakos, told Kathimerini that POESE is not against the smoking ban itself but strongly opposes its timing. He claims that restaurants and bars are already finding the going hard due to the economic crisis and that the ban on smoking is hurting their custom even more. Tsakos claims that the smoking ban has led to a drop of about 30 percent in turnover at establishments that cannot offer customers the option of sitting outside to smoke. At a recent POESE general meeting, it was decided that if the government does not agree to suspend the anti-smoking law by Sunday so bars and restaurants can welcome back smokers, the federation’s members would take it upon themselves to put ashtrays back on tables and bars and allow customers to light up. «Since we are going to go out of business anyway as a result of the crisis, let the state come along and shut us down because we are not following the law,» said Tsakos. The General Confederation of Greek Small Businesses and Traders (GSEVEE) has backed calls for the ban to be lifted. Its president, Dimitris Asimakopoulos, met with government representatives yesterday to request the suspension. The government, however, insists that it will not stop the law from being enforced. Since the start of the month, 3,000 checks have been carried out in Athens, leading to 20 fines.