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Minister announces tough line on anti-smoking ban

Δημοσίευση 19 Ιανουαρίου 2011, 11:11 / Ανανεώθηκε 27 Ιουνίου 2013, 14:55
Minister announces tough line on anti-smoking ban
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Health Minister Andreas Loverdos was adamant that a ban on smoking in public will be fully enforced fully without exceptions or modifications while speaking to reporters on Tuesday.

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos was adamant that a ban on smoking in public will be fully enforced fully without exceptions or modifications while speaking to reporters on Tuesday.

"This is it. They have smoked all they are going to smoke in bars, restaurants and cafes in the past months," he stressed.

Loverdos said that he had presented two proposals for the anti-smoking law to the ministerial committee and Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday. The first had called for interventions but also a few exceptions, especially for venues serving alcohol, while the second proposed more inspections and stricter enforcement of the law as it had been originally voted.

After discussion of the various proposals, the meeting reached a clear decision in favour of stepping up inspections and enforcing the ban, the minister said.

The minister announced that an additional 800 staff will be appointed to the Labour Inspectorate to increase inspection teams, as well as another 40 to the Health Inspectors Corps.

"Apart from the coastguard, the municipal police and the Labour Inspectors' Corps, enforcement of the law will be carried out centrall by the health ministry and there will be reports on who inspects and does not inspect, who enforces and who does not enforce [the law]," Loverdos stressed.

The stricter enforcement will also be accopmanied by a campaign for cutting smoking in schools, hospitals, maternity wards and the military, he added.

Concerning the failure of authorities to successfully enforce the smoking ban until now and how this would change, the minister only noted that "enforcement of the law was not self-evident". Deputy Health Minister Michalis Dimosidis noted that the inspection mechanisms seemed "reluctant" to impose fines over this issue.

He noted that there had been 343,000 complaints that the smoking ban had been violated in two months and fines had only been imposed in 3,000 cases.

"The Greek State cannot continue to be made a laughing-stock," Loverdos stressed, insisting that the law would be enforced in its current form.

Noting that the problem was greatest in private enterprises, where owners tolerated transgressions, Loverdos stressed that it was unfair if the owners of some enterprises did not enforce the law as this would create unfair competition.

The law banning smoking in public provides for fines ranging from 50-500 euro for smokers that violate the ban and fines of up to 5,000 euro for owners of venues that tolerate smoking on their premises. Already in force for smaller venues, it give clubs larger than 400 square metres and casinos until May 31, 2011 to comply with the ban. It also calls for fines upward of 1,500 euro for those smoking in a car with children under 12.

Officially in force since September 1, 2010, the anti-smoking law has proved unpopular and difficult to enforce in Greece, which had a strong smoking culture and perhaps the highest rates of smoking in Europe.

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