Shocked by a photo of Greece’s Alternate Health Minister dancing with a cigarette in his mouth at a nightclub, European Commissioner for Health Vytenis Andriukaitis said he was upset the government has refused to enforce the latest in a long line of smoking bans.
The minister, Pavlos Polakis, is a surgeon with a reputation for disdaining the law and even smoked at a World No Smoking Day press conference in the Health Ministry, a public building where smoking is prohibited, a law almost no one in Greece obeys because there’s no punishment.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event marking World Cancer Day at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Andriukaitis said that he had been shocked to smell cigarette smoke in the halls and offices of the country’s Health Ministry during a visit.
“It’s shameful,” Andriukaitis added, referring to the photo of Polakis, who is a kid of political pitbull for Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipas, speaking out on issues from foreign policy to the economy and attacking rival politicians.
“Whether someone smokes or not is not a question of freedom of choice. When it takes place in a public space, it’s about human rights, because the people around him have the right to breathe fresh air,” the European Commissioner said. He was ignored.