January 19, 2011 - Greece said on Tuesday, January 18th it will enforce a largely ignored smoking ban with hundreds more inspectors, the third time in recent years it has tried and failed to stop the EU's heaviest smokers flouting the ban.
"The Greek state cannot continue to be made a laughing stock," Health Minister Andreas Loverdos told reporters. "We are starting tomorrow -- the ban will be fully implemented."
Most cafes and restaurants had shrugged off the latest, September 1, 2010 ban and taxi drivers smoke with impunity while driving. Loverdos said the government would launch a fresh campaign against smoking and hire hundreds of additional inspectors to slap fines on business owners and smokers. (More - Greece- September 1st embarks on 4th attempt in eight-years to ban smoking in public places..)
Greeks ‘unhealthy but happy’.. Greeks hold one of the worst records in the European Union for smoking and child obesity but they are also among the most optimistic citizens in the region, according to a joint report by the European Commission and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report, whose findings were made public in Brussels yesterday, showed that four in 10 people in Greece (39.2 percent) aged over 15 smoke every day. Greeks have the highest rate for smoking in the 27-member EU, followed by the Bulgarians with 29.1 percent smoking daily and the Irish with 29 percent, just over the EU average of 24.2 percent. The findings came just two weeks after the Greek government heralded the launch of a campaign to discourage children from picking up the habit of smoking by informing them early on about the associated risks. Health Ministry figures show that some 50,000 young Greeks join the ranks of the country’s smokers each year.Inspectors can impose up to 10,000 euros ($13,350) in fines on bar and restaurant owners tolerating smoking and up to 500 euros ($672.04) for smokers who break the law. But only a handful of penalties have been imposed despite widespread violations.
Another health risk faced by Greek children, according to the joint report by the EC and OECD, is obesity. Greece has the worst record in the EU for child obesity after Malta, the report showed. A total of 18.9 percent of Greek children aged between 11 and 15 are obese, significantly above the EU average of 13.3 percent but also much lower than the Maltese with 29.5 percent.
However, despite these unhealthy habits, Greeks appear to be among the least depressed citizens in the bloc. The most recent figures available, for 2008, show Greece to have the lowest rate of suicide, with 2.8 suicides per 100,000 residents recorded in that year, compared to an EU average of 12 suicides per 100,00 residents. In Cyprus, the rate in 2008 was 4.3 suicides per 100,000 residents and in Italy 5.2 suicides per 100,000. The highest rates were recorded in Lithuania with 30.7 suicides per 100,000 residents and Hungary with 21.5 suicides per 100,000.
Greeks ‘unhealthy but happy’, ekathimerini.com, 12/8/2010.
Most restaurants have kept ash-trays on their tables despite the ban or put them back after losing costumers to more smoker-friendly places. Some organised street protests against the ban, saying applying it would drive customers away at a time when business was already hit by recession. (November 22, 2010 - It had been mentioned that Greece - may lighten smoking ban in bars and cafes..)
"This decision comes at a time when the economy is in deep recession, it will lead to shutting down thousands of businesses and at least 80,000 jobs will be lost," said Yiorgos Kavathas, general secretary of the Greek restaurant owners federation.
Smoking-related health costs are two billion euros a year, health ministry data says, about 60 percent of total tobacco tax revenues in 2009. Greece has increased excise tax and VAT on tobacco to 23 from 19 percent as part of EU and IMF (International Monetary Fund) austerity steps.
In pictures: Greece smoking ban..
Reference: Greece to police ignored smoking ban more strictly, Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Louise Ireland, Reuters, 1/18/2011.
Some Greece related news briefs:
Greece - First Pan-Hellenic Congress on Tobacco Control, Athens, Greece December 2-4, 2010..;
Greece - may lighten smoking ban in bars and cafes..;
Greece/Bulgaria - governments opposed to WHO's attempt to ban blended tobacco..;
Greece - bar and restaurant owners openly defying smoking ban..;
Greece - smoking ban - 4th attempt in 8-years failing..;
More - Greece- September 1st embarks on 4th attempt in eight-years to ban smoking in public places..;
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..;
Greeks smoke in defiance of ban..;
Greece - latest attempt at a smoking ban failing..;
Greek Farmers Renew Bulgaria Border Blockade..;
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..;
Pregnant women exposed to passive smoke greater chance of child will have respiratory distress..;
Greek betting firm - July 1st smoking 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, Greek)