August 31, 2010 - On September 1, 2010 Greece will try again to ban lighting up in cafes, restaurants and workplaces. This time Greece has the help of Harvard School of Public Health..
Health Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou said in an August 19 interview with Flash 96 radio, the new law represents a “total ban on smoking in all indoor places”, attributing the failure of the last ban, introduced in 2009, to “exceptions and loopholes” which caused “unfair competition between small and large restaurants”.
The Pasok (Panhellenic Socialist Movement - political party) minister was referring to the concession that allowed the owners of premises smaller than 70 square metres to declare themselves either exclusively smoking or non-smoking establishments and the owners of larger venues to install fully enclosed, air-conditioned smoking areas.
Heralded at the time by New Democracy health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos as a law “ending the myth that we make laws that we don’t respect”, the previous ban also allowed companies with more than 50 workers to designate a smoking room for their employees. Within months of being introduced on 1 July 2009, the law was a flop, particularly in cafes and restaurants, despite encouraging signs that it enjoyed the support of the public and that it had initially met with considerable compliance in much of the hospitality sector.
However, the Xenoyiannakopoulou law does contain some temporary loopholes, and has therefore met with criticism from the country’s small but active antismoking lobby.
Significantly, casinos and venues larger than 300m2 offering live music - many of the country’s bouzoukia nightclubs would fall into this category - will have nine months, until 31 May 2011, to comply with the new ban. This concession was made at the request of the owners of such establishments, who said that their business was already suffering considerably as a result of the economic crisis.
Enforcement of new law not clear..Alexandros Fotinos, founder of the NoSmoke.gr NGO (non-government organization), has said that the interior, health and economy ministers had yet to prepare a joint ministerial decision specifying who precisely will enforce the ban and how. The absence of all the necessary legal instruments such as a joint ministerial decision, he points out, was the main reason the 2009 ban could not be enforced. Although the authorities received thousands of complaints that the ban was being flouted in cafes and workplaces, no prosecutions followed.
“If we don’t have a joint ministerial decision by August 31, the law cannot be enforced from the following day because the municipal police will not have the power to do anything,” Fotinos said.
The antismoking campaigner also regretted that a proposal to give the police a role in enforcing the ban - a detail included in first draft of the new law, which was launched by the minister on World No Tobacco Day on May 31 - was dropped from the final version of the law, which empowers only the prefectural health authorities, municipal police and the coastguard in this regard.
Fotinos is also scathing at an exemption in the law that will allow small neighbourhood shops to advertise cigarettes inside and kiosks to showcase cigarette packs behind windows.
“This is completely illogical. A lot of children go to small shops and kiosks to buy sweets and there they will be confronted with these adverts,” said Fotinos.
How to report transgressions
The 24-hour 1142 smoking-ban hotline established in 2009 will remain in operation. To make a formal complaint, you must provide your personal details, including full name and address.
The law in a nutshell
* Individuals found smoking in public indoor places may be issued with a fine ranging from 50 to 500 euros.
* Owners of public places (restaurants, cafes, workplaces etc) where people are found smoking, those found guilty of selling tobacco and alcohol products to minors, and those found in contravention of the ban on tobacco advertising, will face a fine ranging from 500 to 10,000 euros. On their fifth violation, their respective operating licence will be cancelled.
* Repeat offenders in all categories will pay higher fines
(1.00 EURO = 1.28 USD)
Source: Article 17 of Law 3868/2010, published in the Government Gazette on August 3
See first reference for a list of Greek laws related to tobacco from 1856..
References: Countdown to stubout Issue No. 13405Source: www.nosmoke.gr and Athens News, 8/30/2010; Greece to crack down -- again -- on die-hard smokers, Agence France-Presse (AFP), 8/30/2010.
Some Greece related news briefs:
Greece to go smoke free startng September 1, 2010 this time with the help of Harvard School of Public Health..;
Harvard SPH to help Greece with smoking ban..;
Greece - to try again to ban smoking in all indoor public places..;
Greece - another increase in tobacco taxes can be expected..;
Greece - trusty kiosks to shut in tobacco tax protest..;
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Greece - latest attempt at a smoking ban failing..;
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E-cigarettes - scientists want more safety studies before use..;
Greece - to increase tax on tobacco and alcohol..;
Greece - smoking ban, re-examining the legal framework supporting it..;
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Greek betting firm - July 1st smoking ban has resulted in a further fall in sales..;
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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, Greek)