Greek government unable to implement smoking ban, considers change of legislation

(Greek Reporter) Unable to ban smoking in public places, the Greek government is considering to implement a measure according to which indoor smoking will be allowed at certain hours.

Greeks stubbornly refuse to comply with European Union directives prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places. Since smoking is associated with social activities such as eating and drinking, it is next to impossible to stop  smokers lighting up. “No Smoking” signs in such places are only for show, say many restaurant, coffee shop and bar owners.  In practice however, very few are actively discourage customers from smoking fearing that they might lose trade, something which is not necessarily the case, as in today’s Greece half of the population do not smoke.

A refusal to supply an ashtray with an explanation that smoking is not permitted in enclosed spaces when the customer asks for one, does usually work, but remains largely  an untried method.

Health ministry officials  plan to implement “smoking hours” in restaurants, bars and coffee shops, according to Mega television report. The plan is to allow smoking only for certain hours.

General Secretary of Public Health Yiannis Baskozos said on television that according to his experience, in other European countries there are certain hours when smoking is allowed, and others when smoking is prohibited.

“I have seen in Berlin that smoking in restaurants and bars was forbidden completely for three hours, from 7:00 to 10:00 pm for example. I’m not saying that this is the solution, but it is an idea,” Baskozos said.

According to the Hellenic Cardiological Society, 51.2 percent of Greek men and 25.7 percent of women are smokers. Age-wise, 64.2 percent of men in the 25-44 age bracket smoke, while the percentage for women in the same age bracket is 37.

The same survey on second-hand smoke show that 25-30 percent of passive smokers are at risk of dying from coronary heart disease, while the likelihood of stroke and ischemic myocardial disease increases dramatically.