Europe’s Largest Smoking Nation told to Butt Out

The first of July poses a big challenge for the Greek government, as Europe’s biggest smoking nation attempts to ban its citizens from smoking in public places.
Europe’s Largest Smoking Nation told to Butt Out
(Mona Boshnaq/AFP/Getty Images))
7/1/2009
Updated:
10/1/2015
<a><img src="https://www.theepochtimes.com/assets/uploads/2015/09/smoke85744980.jpg" alt=" (Mona Boshnaq/AFP/Getty Images))" title=" (Mona Boshnaq/AFP/Getty Images))" width="320" class="size-medium wp-image-1827598"/></a>
 (Mona Boshnaq/AFP/Getty Images))
ATHENS—The first of July poses a big challenge for the Greek government, as Europe’s biggest smoking nation attempts to ban its citizens from smoking in public places.

Greeks are the biggest smokers in Europe and smoking is deeply integrated into modern Greek social life.
 
‘‘There will be ups and downs in Greece with this law and we don’t want to hunt smokers but the habit of smoking. We want smokers on our side,’' said Greek Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos in a public speech.

According to the minister, about 20,000 Greeks die as a result of smoking each year. A European Commission study released last March, found that roughly 40 percent of Greek adults say they smoke daily, the highest rate in Europe where the overall average is 30 percent.

Under the new regulation individuals that smoke in public places can be fined up to 500 Euros (about $700 USD). Bar owners face fines ranging from 1,000 to 20,000 Euros ($1,400 to $28,300 USD), and risk losing their operating licenses for a fourth violation.

George Dimolianis, scuba dive instructor and former smoker says that “It’s very good and they should have done it earlier … Non-smokers can’t go anywhere because everyone smokes and there are no places for non-smokers.”

Evagalleia Tsampani, a smoker and owner of hotel in Evoia Island, said that she thinks no Greek will follow the law and she doesn’t believe anyone is going to come check on her business.

Greece is “Suffering from a smoking epidemic,” concluded a 2006 study published in the European Journal of Public Health, with Greek adolescents picking up the habit at a high rate. Researchers found that 50 percent of 16-19 year-olds smoked, and almost 30 percent of medical students.
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