Anti-smoking ban launched (again) but Greeks now light up less

Greece's latest push to ban smoking in bars and restaurants has had some moderate success amidst signs that the country's smokers may be ready to butt out the bad habit in public areas.

The recently appointed conservative government has renewed efforts to ban smoking indoors, enforcing laws that have been forgotten for years. Previous attempts to impose the ban in Greece had dismally failed though conditions may have changed, helping pave the way for it to take effect.

Health concerns and the country's severe economic problems have prompted more Greeks to give up the habit. Figures from a survey conducted by Greece's Cancer Society and Institute of Public Health in May show that the number of smokers has fallen steadily in recent years to 27.5 percent of the population, moving closer to European averages. Smoking is less prevalent among younger Greeks, while nine in ten respondents described Greece's national target of reducing smoking as being important.

Greeks also appear to be less tolerant of having fun in smoke-filled rooms, in a trend that businesses are picking up on.

In a first for the country, the small island of Astypalaia, located in the southern Aegean, is claiming the title of Greece's first smoke-free island. The island has launched a series of initiatives aimed at getting Greeks and visitors to put out their cigarettes and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Over the weekend, authorities said they held checks on bars, cafeterias, and restaurants in Athens, Thessaloniki and Larissa, central Greece. In the Greek capital, no one was found to be smoking in most of the businesses checked by inspectors, as was the case in Thessaloniki ad Larissa.

The real test for the anti-smoking push, however, will come in the next few weeks when the weather gets cooler in Greece and fewer smokers choose to sit in outdoor seating areas.

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#smoking #ban

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