ATHENS – Some 18 months after the New Democracy government said it would enforce a widely disobeyed No Smoking law, municipal officials in the Greek capital plan said a nicotine addiction clinic will open in June for people who want to kick the habit.
That will go along with yet another awareness program about the dangers of smoking with officials saying the clinic will be a pilot plan with four weekly group sessions that could become permanent, said Kathimerini.
The clinic will provide detailed information to smokers about the effects of smoking and the benefits of quitting in line with previous programs that took years to reap any benefits, the smoking rate in Greece – which had been among the highest in Europe and the world – finally going down.
Cardio-respiratory examinations will be offered along with information and programs about international guidelines for quitting smoking, combining personalized counseling and medication.
The announcement came no long after a survey found that despite erratic enforcement of No Smoking laws, more and more Greeks want to stop smoking and 82.9 percent want alternative products but don't know how to find them.
That was the result of a poll March by the market research firm Marc for the major tobacco company Papastratos about smoking trends and habits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the paper said then.
The poll also found that 88 percent want reliable information on alternatives to tobacco, with half of some 1,200 smokers chosen from households in cities and suburban areas saying they didn't know about ways to quit or the benefits.
The situation was worst among young smokers, with 61.7 percent of those aged 21-34 stating they didn’t know enough about how to quit although information is readily available from a number of sources, including on the Internet.
Marc CEO Thomas Gerakis, said that, “The biggest problem revealed in this survey is what I would refer to as a lack of information. And I believe that the problem is even bigger than what we can see in this research, because it’s very difficult to admit to not knowing something.”
In November, 2019, Alternate Health Minister Vassilis Kontozamanis said there would be no let-up in enforcing a decade-old No Smoking law that had been ignored in Greece, pledging there would be no exemptions.
He said the law will be enforced “to the letter” with inspectors aided by police doing spot checks on restaurants, cafes, bars, taverns and other public places although it wasn’t said if Parliament workers and Members of Parliament, who smoked openly while the law has been in effect, would be fined if they continue.
The pledge came after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis unveiled his government’s plan to crack down on smoking in public places, immediately sending out teams of inspectors although it wasn’t said if that would be across the country and in smaller towns where the law is openly flouted.
Some large nightclubs and other venues had asked to be exempted because they have allowed smoking in defiance of the law, but Kontozamnis said that wouldn’t happen.
“We all know that governments in the past did not dare to fully enforce the law,” Kontozamanis told SKAI. “Things have changed.”