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Is it all a Smokescreen?

With only days to go before the smoking ban comes into force in Greece and the Greek Islands, subtle changes are being made to lessen the impact for businesses. It seems rather unclear as to what obligations businesses will really have come the start of July and that there maybe an undetermined grace period to allow them to adapt to the new legislation. Skai radio reported from Alexis Zorbas that although the new regs start on 1st July, there will be a period to make the required changes, leaving many befuddled as to what changes will be applied when.

It appears that the strict regulations which should be implemented for a total ban have been reduced in their severity, with backtracking on regulations for night clubs and some other public places and restaurants. The Health Minister also announced some exemptions from the total smoking ban, including casinos and venues offering live music. Glass panels from floor to ceiling, which were initially required to separate smokers and non-smokers, appear now to have been reduced to be just than 2m high. Offices with more than fifty workers will be allowed to keep a designated smoking room for those who need a fix. Small restaurants and bars will be strictly only smoking or non-smoking but larger ones (over 70 sq.m.)will be allowed to have both designated smoking and non-smoking areas.

The ramifications of these last minute changes are making it unclear to businesses as to what exactly they should do and whether the changes they make will violate their trading licences. Businesses are also concerned. The economic climate has meant a downturn in trade and they are worried about the costs of implementing the new legislation.

Greece is one of the last bastions of a huge smoking population, where some 42% of the adult population are smokers and six out of ten are exposed to others' smoke at work.

It will be interesting to see what really happens as Greece is often known as a country where laws are frequently passed but not enforced.