Greek government pledges to get tougher on enforcing smoking laws

In Greece, a ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces since 2008. However, this ban has never taken effect. In fact, Greece is now one of the few member states which, in theory, has banned smoking, but in reality, it’s still permitted.

The newly elected government, New Democracy-EPP, has vowed that it will make attempts to implement this law going forward.

In a report released by the WHO, Greece scored poorly in the framework, which aims to create a smoke-free environment. The report highlights the fact that the country’s law banning smoking in public places has been ignored.

Furthermore, in a report put together by Eurostat, Greece came joint first with Bulgaria when it comes to smoking rates in the EU.

When the EU’s smoking regulations came into place over a decade ago, there were mixed opinions from citizens. But, ten years on, the majority of the public believe that the ban has been effective in reducing smoking and has improved the air quality in public spaces.

Previous governments in Greece have, however, made similar pledges to enforce the smoking ban, but haven’t had much success in putting in into practice.

The European Commission has criticised this. In an interview, in 2017, EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis“From our perspective, there is little value in having laws if they are not enforced.”

“It is not a matter of free will if someone smokes or not. When this happens in a public area, it is a violation of human rights,” Andriukaitis added.

A number of activists have also called on the government to take action on the matter and to start implementing the law. Additionally, a survey of Greeks suggested that many believe ignoring the law is a “cultural degradation”.

So, what will happen going forward? The government said that it’s planning to increase on-the-spot controls in the coming months, as well as encouraging citizens to report cases of the law being broken.

It said that it will, in particular, be keeping an eye on hospitals, educational institutions, cafes and restaurants, bars, and sports facilities.

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