After years of record high rates of smokers in Greece, that rate is going down much more rapidly than in other European countries.
A study carried out by the Institute of Public Health of the American College of Greece showed that 27.1 percent of the population are smokers today, compared to the 36.7 percent that was recorded in 2012 in a survey conducted by Greece’s Kappa Research polling company. I
In similar past surveys, conducted by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), the percentage of Greeks who smoked was 37.9 percent in 2009, and 32.5 percent in 2014, demonstrating a steady decline over the last eight years.
At the same time, there has been a 49 percent decline in the annual consumption of cigarettes in Greece, between 2007-2016.
Social support for smoking ban enforcement
For a country that has traditionally had an exceptionally high rate of smokers, it may come as a surprise that 80 percent of Greeks say that reducing the smoking rate should be a national goal. Yet they express disappointment at the notoriously lax enforcement of the smoking ban in public venues.
Nearly 84 percent of respondents said that smoke and ashtrays in public spaces constitutes “cultural degradation”, while 76.1 percent expressed anger that Greece is the only country in the EU where this occurs.
The pioneering Mayor of Trikala
The mayor of Trikala, in Thessaly prefecture, Dimitris Papastergiou is a bright exception to the rule, as he has proceeded with strict enforcement of the smoking ban.
“We were the first and only ones to launch a campaign to inform people of the enforcement of the anti-smoking law. We will not back down, because we have seen the positive results already,” Papastergiou said.
“All this demonstrates that the initiative of the Mayor of Trikala to enforce the smoking ban is a necessity in 21st century Greece, and we call upon other Greek politicians to follow the example of Trikala,” said Panagiotis Behrakis, one of Greece’s foremost lung specialists, who founded and directs the Institute of Public Health of the American College of Greece.
Behrakis also heads the SmokeFreeGreece programme,