Smoking is on the wane in Greece, according to figures released on Friday which showed that fewer than 20 billion cigarettes were consumed in 2012, the lowest in 10 years.
The same data indicated that the number of Greeks who smoke on a regular basis has dropped to 31 percent from 40-45 percent a decade ago. Purchases of contraband cigarettes, however, rose to 13 percent last year from 2.2 percent in 2008.
Greece has raised the excise tax on cigarettes by more than 10 percent in the past few years as part of austerity measures aimed at plugging its huge budget deficit. During a conference on Friday, World No Tobacco Day, Deputy Health Minister Fotini Skopouli spoke in favor of further hikes in the price of cigarettes. “It does not make sense to raise fuel tax and not do the same on tobacco,” she said.