Greek smokers are getting used to being confined to the great outdoors following a ban on lighting up in public buildings.
Europe’s heaviest smokers, Greeks have resisted previous attempts to get them to cut down but this time they face tough fines.
One smoker interviewed in Athens conceded that while the ban may be good for people’s health, it will harm bar owners who are already feeling the pinch of recession.
Some 42 percent of Greeks over the age of 15 smoke, a much higher proportion than the European average of 29 percent.
Financial penalties could well be the key to bringing that figure down.
As one bar manager observes:
“The truth is, it is difficult for Greeks to follow the
law, we all know that, but I believe that once the law is the law, and there will be fines, and with no way of avoiding them, it will work.”
Smokers who defy the ban could have to cough up a maximum of 500 euros. Businesses that fall foul of the law may have to put up to 10,000 euros into Greece’s depleted state coffers.
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