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Smoker reduction and anti-smoking law - The new research of Athens 9.84

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The reduction of smoking in Greece, the new smoking habits, the attitude of teenagers and young people towards smoking and the new anti-smoking law are the subject of the new big research of "Athens 9.84" today, Friday, November 1 from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Seventeen years after the first implementation of the anti-smoking law in Greece, has the mentality of the Greeks changed or are we still looking for loopholes in the law? How ready is the state mechanism to enforce the law, following the example of Europe? And in the end, are smokers now a minority, as research shows?

Pending the clarifying circular on audits

The practical issues that arise from the involvement of the men of EL.AS. in the implementation controls of the anti-smoking law was developed by the president of the Panhellenic Federation of Police Officers, Grigoris Gerakarakos.

As he characteristically said, the explanatory circular that stipulates how the controls will be carried out by the Police and how the fines will be imposed has not been issued yet, while there are not even the necessary blocks for the fines that will be imposed.

Municipality of Athens: Twenty-day information stage for shopkeepers

The deputy mayor of Athens, Vassilis Koromantzos, noted that the Municipality of Athens, despite the fact that it has significant shortages in human resources in the Municipal Police, has planned the action plan for the controls of the implementation of the anti-smoking law. There will be, he said, a 20-day stage of informing the stores of health interest, which will have to be provided with a report book.

Last year, the Municipality of Athens carried out 4.000 inspections in stores of health interest and it was found that in 60% of the stores the anti-smoking law was not applied.

Reduction of smoking in adolescents

Emeritus Professor and Scientific Officer of the research from the Research University Institute of Mental Health, Neuroscience and Medical Precision (EPIPSY) Anna Kokkevi, speaking on the show "Now we tied" with Galantsa and show the large reduction rate of smokers at a young age.

In the last twenty years (1998-2018) smoking at least once in the life of a 15-year-old has decreased from 46,3% to 30,9% and daily smoking from 13,7% to 8,1%, said Anna Kokkevi, Emeritus Professor of the Medical School of the University of Athens.
At the same time, the percentage of 15-year-old students who have used an e-cigarette has doubled compared to 2014 by 15,4%!
"The messages we receive from the new generation, as evidenced by the above data, are positive regarding cigarette smoking. "There is a change in behavior and trends," he explained.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that in 2018, one in three 15-year-olds (36,7%) reported using e-cigarettes at least once in their lifetime, with a higher percentage of boys (39,7%) compared to girls. (33,7%).

"The use of e-cigarettes by adolescents raises the question of whether this can be a 'gateway' for minors to smoking," said Anna Kokkevi.

Cardiologists close to children

Ο Anastasios Milkas, MD, Interventional Cardiologist, Head of the Infarction Unit of the Naval Hospital of Athens spoke on the same show about the campaign of the Hellenic Cardiological Society in schools with the theme "Become the Hero of the Heart - Make a Promise". The children start to worry, said Mr. Milkas, as they ask and seek to learn what is good for their health, to a much greater extent than in the past. However, he added, young children start experimenting with both cigarettes and tobacco products mainly out of curiosity and not so much at the urging of friends.

The prime minister will announce the reopening of 1142

The Secretary General of the Ministry of Health Panagiotis Prezerakos Speaking in Athens 9.84, he clarified that this is not a new law, because it was passed in 2008. "Initially we failed to implement it and now a new effort is being made. We have tried to improve and update some points, without ruling out the need for similar efforts in the future.

"After a decade it seems to be the right time because people seem to be more mature to accept changes and different attitudes in relation to smoking, but also because it is of particular interest to the government and Mr. Mitsotakis himself." Referring to the improvements made, he pointed out that there are no sweeping changes in the law, but its application has been extended to open spaces, where there is a presence of minors, such as playgrounds. Also, as he said, the decision of the CoC was implemented for a law without exceptions, something that implies its application everywhere, such as in casinos, gambling agencies and buildings over 400 sq.m.

The Hellenic Police was actively involved in the audit process, given that until now the Municipal Police, the Coast Guard, the Health Inspectors, as well as the Public Health Supervisors of the Health Directorates of the Regions were responsible. Mr. Panagiotis Prezerakos characterized the involvement of ELAS as a key point for the implementation of the anti-smoking law, which, as he stressed, appeared before only in case of confirmed delinquent behavior and after complaints and reactions in case of imposition of a fine. "The police only participated as members of mixed gangs and can now impose fines," said the Secretary General of the Ministry of Health.

For the controls, note that they have started, but it takes time to adjust. When asked about the number to be called by those who wish to make a complaint, he replied that it has been deactivated and an attempt is being made to reactivate it. The four-digit 1142 will be announced by the Prime Minister in November, Mr. Prezerakos revealed, explaining that it will not be exclusively about complaints, which will be forwarded to police stations, but will also provide information about smoking. As he announced, after a sufficient number of violations by specific stores, representatives of the control mechanisms will be sent and then fines will be imposed, the amount of which is expected to be made public.

The shopkeepers appeal to the SC

PASKEDI will appeal to the Council of State with a request for the partial implementation of the anti-smoking law in companies of health interest.

The aim of the demands of the Association is to strike a balance in the field of Catering, in terms of law enforcement. Proposes a sustainable solution that serves shops and patrons, smokers and non-smokers, the Niki Konstantinou President of the Panhellenic Association of Shops, Consumers, Catering and Entertainment. "But we must protect workers and non-smokers as well as our smokers," he said, adding that "we embrace the ban on smoking in places where there are minors" and "all fellow restaurants where there is food we smoke." "Beyond that, however, there are other shops for adults, such as bars, coffee bars and hookah shops." 

Ms. Konstantinou raises the issue of business viability, stating that "after 10 years of deep crisis, they have no more room to see their clientele decrease. "Neither the fines nor the final revocation of the license will help this anti-smoking development." 

At the same time, he proposes for businesses to have "separate areas with glass curtains, with ventilation where provided on the basis of square meters. 

However, most restaurant vendors in downtown Athens, who spoke in Athens 9.84, view the anti-smoking law positively. However, they predict a decrease in turnover and jobs, especially during the winter months. At the same time, they consider some provisions of the law to be excessive, while they state that Greece must finally implement the anti-smoking law. It is worth noting that many smokers told us that they are in favor of the ban as they do not want to harm non-smokers. The majority of restaurants in the center of Athens ban smoking inside the shops for fear of controls and fines. It is, however, obvious to the Athenians a change for the better in the social culture and consciousness of smoking.

The oldest anti-smoking Association in Greece

"The anti-smoking law includes groundbreaking provisions (abolition of the exclusion of entertainment centers, ban on certain outdoor areas, involvement of the Hellenic Post) However, these provisions risk being left blank due to the complex wording and legal problems that create with other applicable provisions of the amended legislation without explicitly repealing them "support eight associations, civil non-profit organizations and groups of citizens fighting for the protection against second-hand smoke. the oldest clubs in the country as it was founded in 1986.

"Society is now mature enough to claim a smoke-free environment. The government must now show the fist needed to implement the law, points out the president of the Anti-Smoking Association of Patras, Costas Tsachrelias.
"The law was and is fine," says Mr. Tsachrelias, "but the control mechanisms show a tolerance and a guilt in doing their job. Dramatic measures must be taken so that the government can establish the quality environment that we as citizens need and the government needs to reduce health spending.

"The Anti-Smoking Association of Patras was founded in 1986 and the World No Smoking Day was established by the WHO in 1988. This alone makes Patras a pioneer in the fight mainly against passive smoking. The fact that 10 local organizations have set up a network against passive smoking shows that our society is mature, after all, smokers have been reduced to 27% with 10% being occasional smokers. "When we founded the association, the percentage of smokers in our country reached 47%. The Network of Institutions for the Protection of Passive Smoking participated in the consultation on the Anti-Smoking Law, however, our proposals were not adopted".

There is now a social consensus

Greek society is now mature enough to accept and implement the anti-smoking law, said the head of the anti-smoking law professor Panagiotis Behrakis.

"There is now a social consensus for the full implementation of the anti-smoking law, the shopkeepers accept it, the citizens ask for it, the smokers agree. It is now a social check ", the professor noted, adding that according to the research that has been done, the percentage of smokers in Greece is now 27,5%. "We are now approaching the European percentages which are around 25%", added Mr. Behrakis.

What is happening in other countries

Russia: Vladimir Putin's country is pushing for a healthier lifestyle, and smokers have been exiled during the Russian winter.

France: Until recently, it was a country of fanatical smokers, but also of the customer relations of politicians with the tobacco lobby.

Austria: It is the only country in which the issue of non-smoking has been the subject of a governing coalition agreement.

Turkey: In the neighboring country, the real observance of the smoking ban was identified with the arrival of Tayyip Erdogan.

  Nina Komninou - Elena Bregianni - Costas Raptis - Kaliopi Aslanidou

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