Die-hard Cypriot smokers must stub out by Jan 1

Tue Jul 7, 2009 7:56am EDT
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By Nassos Stylianou

NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Die-hard smokers in Cyprus will finally have to curb the habit when one of the last EU smoking havens imposes a January 1 ban on puffing in public places.

Lawmakers are poised to pass tough new regulations banning smoking in public places, replacing an existing law which is regularly flouted.

Come January 1, smoking will be prohibited in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and workplaces, with planned hefty fines for those caught having a puff.

Nightclub owners are not amused. "Music, alcohol, and cigarettes go well together," said Phytos Thrasivoulou, head of the Cyprus Federation of Restauranteurs.

Cyprus is just below the EU-27 average with 29 per cent of the population smoking, according to a 2008 European poll. However the findings of a state survey earlier this year showed Cypriot children to have alarming levels of nicotine in their blood.

Traces of metabolized nicotine were found in 94 per cent of children from non-smoking households and 97 per cent of all surveyed children.

It is believed that public opinion on the island is strongly in favor of the proposed law, with a lifestyle survey earlier this year showing 88 per cent of the population supporting a smoking ban in indoor public places.

While the island banned smoking in public places in 2002, the existing law is not strictly enforced and Cyprus ranks second to neighboring Greece with the percentage of the population exposed to smoking at work at 45 per cent. Smokers still light up in bars and nightclubs.   Continued...