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Society

No Smoking Law Ignored, But Fewer Greeks Lighting Up

October 16, 2019

ATHENS – As the new New Democracy government is trying to crack down on smoking and to enforce a long-ignored law banning the practice in public places, Greeks – who have one of the highest rates in the world – are starting to cut back.

After highly-publicized educational campaigns warning of the dangers, a study found that the number of  adults who smoke has declined from 40 percent to 27.5 percent in a decade, said Kathimerini of the findings.

Conducted by the American College of Greece’s Public Health Institute and the Hellenic Cancer Society and presented on Tuesday, the survey found that 17.9 percent smoke on a daily basis and 9.6 percent smoke less than seven cigarettes a week.

Age is also an important factor, as regular smokers in the 18-24 age group came to just 7.9 percent, rising to 9.9 percent in the 25-34 group and 26.1 percent among 45-50-year-olds.

It’s still not been reported whether an alleged crackdown on smoking to enforce ignored laws is having any effect, but the New Democracy government is sending lawmakers a bill that would provide stricter penalties and get tougher on smoking in public places.

The measure will likely be voted on after debate on Oct. 15 and, if approved, will go into effect the next day but it’s unclear how it will be enforced either after the government wanted police to help  inspectors make sure the law is being followed but got resistance.

It will prohibit smoking from all public indoor areas, but also in playgrounds and other open-air areas frequented by children with no explanation whether health inspectors would be touring those areas to check for compliance.

It also bans smoking in taxis, as well as at all sports arenas, including open-air stadiums where there could be scores of thousands of people, many of whom set off flares during matches they are allowed to bring in.

Fines will also be much stiffer, at 200 euros ($221) for smokers violating the ban and at 500 euros ($551) for the managers or owners of the businesses or establishments where the violations are taking place.

Authorities haven’t released any figures to indicate whether the vaunted crackdown is working or even taking place as there is anecdotal evidence showing people smoking at tables with no smoking signs in coffee shops and other places as well as post offices and public workplaces as well.

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