Greek smoking ban ineffective
Nearly nine years after it became law, Greece is still struggling to implement a smoking ban in public spaces.
According to the latest Eurobarometer survey in 2009, Greeks used to smoke more than anyone else in Europe.
The proportion of smokers in Greece was 42%, followed by Bulgaria (39%), Latvia (37%), Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (all 36%).
In Greece, six out of ten working respondents said they were exposed to smoke at their workplace on a daily basis.
According to a World Health Organisation report, Greece’s compliance with the smoke-free environments framework is quite poor.
On a scale of 0-10, where scores 8 and above describe high compliance and below 5 low compliance, Greece’s performance is 3.
In particular, the reports notes that the country’s compliance in cafes, bars, restaurant is from 0 to 2.
The legislation exists
In 2002, a new law prohibiting smoking in public and private workplaces, in transport, in hospitals and other healthcare facilities as educational institutions was enacted.
However, the legislation was of little consequence, as exceptions were repeatedly granted to workplaces to allow continued smoking.
A new law was then adopted in 2008 that prohibited smoking (and consumption of tobacco products in other ways) in all workplaces (including private), taxis and ferries as well as in all enclosed public places (including bars and restaurants).
Just before the date when the smoking ban would enter into force (1 July 2009) the EU’s Immigration Commissioner, who was then the Health Minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, stressed that “now the hard part begins”.
“This is a change that will bring things upside down,” he noted, warning though that powerful economic interests would put pressure on the ministry against the implementation of the law, but he was not willing to back down.
George Papandreou, a former premier, tried to enforce the implementation of the law. He was also awarded the Quadriga prize for his efforts to ban smoking during times of economic crisis.