Greece - smoking ban, re-examining the legal framework supporting it..


November 12, 2009 - Greece, Europe’s heaviest smoking nation, tries to kick the habit by banning tobacco in indoor public places beginning July 1,2009 but many doubt the ban will work. (Greece - will the July 1st smoking ban work??)

It has been found that the ban on smoking in most bars and cafes is not being adhered to nor applied properly, the government said yesterday, adding that it is launching a review of the law that was passed earlier this year after pressure from the European Union.

Health Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou said that she had noted “great gaps in the application of the smoking ban” and would be re-examining the legal framework supporting it.

At the end of last month, it was revealed that state inspectors had received more than 2,500 complaints about people violating the ban. It also emerged that some 2,200 cafe and bar owners in Athens had applied to turn their venues into all-smoking establishments but that none of the paperwork had been processed by authorities, in most cases because the applications were incomplete.

Xenogiannakopoulou said she wants to address such problems. According to the law, which came into effect on July 1, premises smaller than 70 square meters will henceforth be either exclusively smoking or nonsmoking. Those that decide to allow smoking must have their operating licenses revised, have adequate air-conditioning units installed and display a special sticker determining their status.

Larger establishments must restrict smoking to a separate section of their premises, exceeding not more than 30 percent of the surface area. Live music venues must separate smokers from nonsmoking patrons with the use of a 2-meter-high glass wall.

As for offices, businesses employing fewer than 50 workers are obliged to ban smoking on the premises. Companies employing more than 50 people have the right to maintain smoking rooms.

Meanwhile, the president of the National Coordinating Committee against Smoking, Panayiotis Behrakis, recommended yesterday that the government not allow any exceptions to the law and ban smoking in all public places. He also suggested that the price of cigarettes, which in Greece is lower in than many other European Union countries, should be increased with the main aim of reducing the number of youngsters who smoke, which is also particularly high in Greece

Reference: Smoking ban is re-examined, Kathimerini, 11/11/2009.

Some Greece related news briefs:
Pregnant women exposed to passive smoke greater chance of child will have respiratory distress..;
Greek betting firm - July 1st smokng ban has resulted in a further fall in sales..;
Greece - will the July 1st smoking ban work??;
Greece - ban on smoking in workplace starts July 1, 2009..;
Greece starts anti-smoking campaign..;
Greece May Have the Highest Cigarette Consumption Per Person in the World...
(Hellenic Republic)

1 comments:

  phil

December 27, 2009 at 8:32 AM

This law has been a near-total failure, with zero enforcement and Greeks taking deliberate advantage of the confusion surrounding its complex and counterproductive exemptions. I think, like the smoking law before it, it was designed to look good on paper and then fail. If not, why has there been no enforcement?

Has anyone actually been fined? Where? Who is responsible for enforcing this law (because the police don't). Nothing less than stiff fines applied frequently will work on a population who are largely ignorant of the dangers of smoking and who do not understand or care what passive smoking is.

The 70 sq m threshold is too subtle for Greeks. Even though this might make sense (most kafenions are less than 70 sq m), anything less than a sledgehammer law is probably no going to work. And where is the education and public health promotion? Non existent.

Unfortunately this failure proves (1) that Greece is unable to pass and enforce public health laws, (2) that public health education is non-existent, and (3) that Greece is thirty years behind civilized countries who have been able to educate their citizens about snoking and successfully implement bans.