SYRIZA Defies Court Order Closing Anti-Smoking Law Loophole

March 28, 2019

ATHENS – Immediately after Greece’s highest administrative court struck down a 2011 ministerial decision exempting nightclubs with music and bigger than 300 square meters from anti-smoking laws, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA issued another decree reinstating protection for the clubs.

The Council of State (CoS) had shot down the exemption although the anti-smoking laws are essentially symbolic in Greece because they are rarely enforced except in certain areas and people can smoke almost wherever they want, including in hospitals.

A new motion to overturn the latest ministerial decision was filed with the CoS after the government re-issued the same decree that was overruled, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.

Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis smoked an an Anti-Smoking Day news conference and in a night club and was excoriated by for EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis’ complaint the Greek minister shouldn’t have done so.

Andriukaitis said he was shocked while in the Health Ministry for a World Cancer Day visit, to find the halls reeked of smoke, saying it was “shameful,” although common in Greece where people smoke almost anywhere they want, including in hospitals, schools, post offices, taverns, bars, night clubs, and public buildings.

Polakis, who is also a surgeon, said he was dealing with more pressing issues at the ministry than smoking, said Kathimerini. “Learn before you speak,” Polakis wrote on his Facebook account in a post addressed to Andriukaitis. “I’ll decide when to stop smoking, on my terms,” Polakis said, disregarding death statistics from smoking and health risks.


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