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Battling against the country’s "national problem"

Ρεπορτάζ: Νίκη Κιτσαντώνη

Δημοσιεύθηκε στην εφημερίδα Athens Plus στις 3/9/10

 

Alexandros Fotinos, 45, is the president of Nosmoke.gr, a nongovernmental organization lobbying against smoking. He welcomes the introduction of the blanket ban, though he also stresses that strict implementation will be a challenge for authorities. Fotinos himself was a smoker for several years, between the ages of 16 and 26, and gave up while doing his military service in northern Greece – his fifth attempt to kick the habit. He called smoking Greece’s “national problem” – noting that the country has the world’s highest smoking rate per capita. He said the ban was the government’s chance to make a hugely significant reform.

“We welcome and support the new law but it will take the joint efforts of the state, the media, nongovernmental organizations and the Greek public to ensure that this legislation is enforced.”
“OK, some people will lose out – chiefly the tobacco producers and retailers. But what is the alternative? That we keep turning a blind eye as 20,000 Greeks die of smoking-related diseases every year?”
“This lawis for the broader public good. Studies across the world have proven consistently that the introduction of blanket bans on smoking radically reduces the proportion of the population that smokes.”
“Smokers have the right to keep smoking if that’s what they want but they don’t have the right to kill everyone else in the process. However, it is a very small percentage of people that insist on smoking. Recent surveys show that 80 percent of Greek smokers want to give up.”
“The restrictions on smoking introduced last year have raised awareness among many Greeks and prepared them for the blanket ban. Many of them have changed their outlook. The new ban will nurture this trend.”
“The ban will not change Greek habits as radically as some people fear. Can Greeks stop going out? Are they capable of doing that?”
“It is easier for the smoker to get up from his seat at a taverna and go outside for a cigarette than to visit bouzouki venues [where smoking is still permitted] more frequently. It’s certainly a cheaper option too.”
“Greek nonsmokershave become excessively tolerant of smoke-filled bars and restaurants. They have had to grin and bear it for years on end. This is now going to change.”