Businesses fume at smoking ban

The federation representing the owners of bars, cafes and restaurants yesterday discussed the possibility of staging rolling 24-hour strikes after the government threatened to intensify the enforcement of a smoking ban which has been only laxly implemented since its introduction last September. Addressing a press conference yesterday, a spokesperson for the federation, known by its acronym POESE, said that a crackdown by authorities would compound the losses suffered by businesses due to the economic crisis, leading to the closure of up to 20,000 businesses and the loss of some 80,000 jobs. «We are not against the ban but we believe it is a mistake to enforce it at this particular point in time,» POESE’s general secretary, Giorgos Kavvathas, told the press conference. Kavvathas said his federation was seeking the suspension of the law’s implementation for at least a year to allow businesses to weather a difficult year. According to POESE’s president, Yiannis Tsakos, union members have seen a drop in turnover of around 50 percent since last year. Some members of the federation reportedly proposed that bar and restaurant owners avoid paying value-added tax and insurance to show their discontent, though this measure was rejected by the majority. The one measure agreed upon unanimously, in principle, was the staging of protest action such as rolling 24-hour strikes, but no launch date had been set for the action by late last night. The federation also appealed for the launch of an «essential dialogue» with the aim of drafting a different anti-smoking law that is «realistic and viable.»