Greece imposes smoking ban in enclosed public spaces

September 1st, 2010 - 11:25 pm ICT by BNO News  

ATHENS, GREECE (BNO NEWS) – Greece imposed on Wednesday a new law banning smoking in enclosed public spaces, after previous attempts to impose partial bans failed.

According to the Kathimerini newspaper the ban came into effect on Wednesday and it is aimed at bringing Greek legislation into line with the European Union laws.

The smoking ban will apply to bars, cafes, restaurants, offices and in public transport. Smokers that break the new regulation could be fined with hundreds of between 50 and 500 euros; businesses that allow smoking in enclosed spaces will be fined up to €10,000.

Greece is one of the European nations with higher percentage of smokers. At least 42 percent of individuals over 15 years old smoke, in contrast with the European average of 28 percent.

“It will contribute to the work we’re doing today that’s aimed at changing attitudes, norms and behavior to improve our quality of life and to make our country viable, not just its economy but in everyday life,” Prime Minister George Papandreou said.

Greece partially banned smoking in 2002 and 2003 but those were largely ignored. In 2009, an antismoking legislation was introduced but with loopholes that caused unfair competition between small and large restaurants.

Such loophole allowed restaurants smaller than 70 square meters to declare themselves either exclusively smoking or non-smoking establishments and the owners of larger venues to install fully enclosed, air-conditioned smoking areas.

The Greek government said that the new law was enacted in order to protect public health. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the new law will “end the myth that we make laws that we don’t respect.”

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