Greek government under fire for not implementing smoking ban law
Anti-smoking campaigners heavily criticised the Greek government for not implementing a 2008 law that prohibits smoking in public places EURACTIV.com reports from Athens.
Speaking on Wednesday 24 May, at the International Conference on Tobacco Control 2017 organised by the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP) in Athens, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed that the anti-smoking campaign has a national character.
“Without underestimating the methods used so far against smoking, for me the issue of tackling smoking is a matter of education,” he noted.
While the ‘education’ comment maybe appropriate for smoking Greek MPs and politicians who are known to flout the law inside and outside parliament, the general public seems to slowly begin to get the idea, as at the moment non smokers outnumber smokers in Greece by more than 2:1.
The proportion of daily smokers in Greece in 2014 was 27%, the third highest in the EU – but still down from the 42% in 2009, when Greece topped the league of smoking in Europe. [Eurostat data]
However the amount of inconvenience caused by the minority of smokers is far greater than the figures suggest.
There is hardly a cafe, bar or restaurant where a minority of smokers does not spoil the experience by sharing their smoke with the rest of patrons, while the proprietor uses the excuse, to those few customers that complain, that if they deny the smoker the request to smoke whey will go somewhere else where smoking is allowed.
But a simple head count should actually prove that they are wrong. And it is not until more people start to complain and take their custom to non smoking establishments that the attitude will begin to change.
After all Greeks travel extensively in Europe and beyond and never they are known to ignore non smoking signs in the UK or Germany or the US.
In Greece “compliance with the smoke-free environments framework is quite poor”, partly because cigarettes are still cheap, while everything else is being taxed to extinction by the government, and partly because there is a general unwillingness by those in charge of public spaces – not only catering establishments but also offices and stores and vehicles – to say No.
And despite the advertisement ban, there is hardly a Greek programme or film on Greek TV where the characters do not light up several times during the show, visibly enjoying the experience.
How are we then going to compete with that when trying to pass on the message to young people that smoking is bad for you? Under the circumstances, the fact that the proportion of non smokers is increasing shows a remarkable degree of awareness and maturity on the part of the Greek population.