Greece - ban on smoking in workplace starts July 1, 2009..

June 12, 2009 - Athens - The days of cigarette friendly Greece are about to go up in smoke as the government announced a ban against smoking in the workplace to take effect starting July 1, 2009. The new law will have a heavy impact on a nation where nearly 45 per cent of the adult population smokes, and where smoking in offices and cafes is seen as a traditional pastime. We wonder about enforcement.. -

Greece, one of Europe's heaviest smoking nations, had initially allowed for designated smoking rooms to be set aside in state and private businesses under the new law, but the minister of health ruled that option out on Thursday.

"As of July 1 no smoking will be allowed anywhere in the workplace," said Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. He said the government will only pass a partial ban for restaurants and bars, saying smaller establishments will become strictly non-smoking but larger businesses were allowed to designate smoking and non-smoking areas.

Under the new law, smoking will be banned in other public places such as schools, universities, state offices, hospitals and on all forms of public transport.

The Health Ministry said the new law is aimed at saving the lives of an estimated 20,000 people who die of smoking-related diseases every year, adding that the habit costs the state more than 2 billion euros a year.

The imminent ban on smoking appears to have given some people the incentive to kick the habit, as some hospital clinics that help people quit are reporting waiting lists of up to three months.

According to a newspaper published in the Greek daily Kathimerini, hospital clinics indicated there was a rush of people wanting to quit. The University Hospital of Larissa, in central Greece, said it had no appointments available until after the end of September while at Evangelismos Hospital in central Athens, appointments were available after August. Officials said that there are less than 40 clinics across Greece that help people kick the smoking habit and that number will have to increase to satisfy demand.

Reference: Cigarette loving Greeks banned from smoking in the workplace, Author : DPA , EarthTimes, 6/11/2009.

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(Hellenic Republic)