ATHENS – With violations still going on, the new New Democracy government has sent municipal police out to enforce a no smoking law that’s been ignored since it was first passed – by the Conservatives – in 2008.
The number of inspections carried out by the Athens municipal police on tripled in the first half of this year compared to last year, figures showed on Aug. 20, said Kathimerini, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis vowing to be the first to have the law complied with.
The data showed inspections also intensified under the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA although its’ own alternate health minister Pavlos Polakis was exempt, smoking openly in the ministry and nightclubs and wherever he wanted without being made to comply.
A total of 2,809 checks were carried out on cafes, bars and restaurants in the first six months of the year and 245 violations recorded, compared to 918 inspections in the same period last year that led to 171 violations being recorded.
“Keeping the city’s businesses smoke-free concerns us all – businesses, inspectors, but chiefly citizens,” Acting Athens Mayor Giorgos Broulias said. He said the enforcement of the ban was “one of the municipal police’s key goals.”
The Health Ministry sent an advisory with detailed instructions to all regional authorities telling them to enforce the ban.
Signed by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias, the memo is a reminder to authorities of the government’s intention to enforce the law, although many restaurant and tavern owners and coffee shops especially have ignored it, setting out ashtrays for use.
Apart from all state, government, local, medical, educational and childcare services, the ban also includes sports arenas, all indoor bars, restaurants and cafes work areas, airports (except for specially-designated enclosed smoking areas), passenger waiting areas, public transportation and taxis. It also bans smoking in vehicles, whether public or private, in which there are children under the age of 12.