Greek island wants to be smoke free in ambitious plan

Smoke free Astypalaia-a bid step or a campaign that goes up in smoke?

The small island of Astypalaia, located in the southern Aegean, is claiming the title of Greece's first smoke free island. The island is launching a series of initiatives aimed at getting Greeks and visitors to put out their cigarettes and adopt a healthier lifestyle. It is this healthier living that Astypalaia wants to put at the center of its tourism push.

Municipal and regional authorities are behind the initiative, along with tobacco company Papastratos.

"A smoke free nature being adopted by Astypalaia is part of the island's new identity as a source of positive energy that focuses on well being and a better quality of life being offered by the island," said the region of the southern Aegean in a statement.

The initiative will involve banning smoking in all parts of the council and encouraging businesses to adopt anti-smoking laws through a series of initiatives.

In an bid to drive home the point that the island is going tobacco free, it has also labelled the outdoor area near its traditional windmills as a no smoking zone.

In a country that has failed dismally in implementing anti-smoking laws, the move grabbed lots of headlines in the last few days but is very ambitious.

It is hard to see how local government officials will implement the restrictions on the 18 kilometer-long island and prevent the campaign from going up in smoke. Restaurant and cafe owners in Greece are not prepared to risk upsetting their smoking patrons and see them going to competitor who will probably allow them to light up freely.

The economic crisis has prompted a drop in smoking in the country, data shows, but Greece remains the heaviest smoking country in the European Union.