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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ban on smoking in indoor public places from Sept. 1

As of Wednesday, September 1 there will be a blanket ban on smoking in all indoor public areas throughout Greece, with stiff fines for transgressors. The ban applies equally to work places and recreational venues, without the option of a special smoking area, except in the case of casinos and recreational venues larger than 300 square metres playing live music. For the last two categories, there will be an eight-month transitional period and the full ban will begin to apply from June 1, 2011.
Under the new law, private individuals that flout the smoking ban face fines ranging from 50-500 euros, while companies found to be tolerating smoking on their premises can be fined between 500 and 10,000 euros.

The details of the smoking ban were outlined in a health ministry circular issued on Monday, with restaurateurs and club owners objecting to the timing that they said will be a further knock to a sector already struggling to cope with a decline in turnover of as much as 25 percent.

In a press conference on Monday, Health Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou said that policing would be lenient during the first month that the measures are imposed, with authorities confining themselves to issuing warnings to offenders.

Repeat offenders, however, including those given warnings during the first month, would face progressively stiffer penalties or even arrest, she clarified.

Fines for businesses, both work places and recreational venues, will be imposed on those in charge of a particular enterprise. After a fourth repeat offence, shops and businesses would be temporarily closed for 10 days while after the fifth their licence will be permanently revoked.

Anyone wishing to report smoking offences, meanwhile, will be able to call the number 1142.

The minister clarified that the fines had been halved, both because that was more reasonable and also because it would be easier to enforce and collect them.

Responsibility for enforcing the smoking ban has been given to the coast guard, municipal police and the police force, as well as prefecture and municipality social services.

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