Thinking of Smoking in Public Places in Greece? Better Think Again

A Joint Ministerial Decision published in Greece’s Government Gazette on Friday enforces new, much tougher fines for those who violate the smoking ban in public places in Greece.

The new fines came to effect on Monday, November 18, as the Greek government has reiterated its will to enforce the already-existing ban, regardless of a longstanding laissez-faire attitude toward smoking that authorities have shown for many years.

According to the new fines, the fee an individual will have to pay if he or she smokes in a public space in the country will rise to €100, from the current penalty of €50 which was in place until now.

The fine for smoking in schools, kindergartens, playgrounds and any other area with children will rise to €200.

Drivers and passengers in cars with children under 12 onboard now face a stiff fine of €1,500.

The smoking ban applies to every single indoor public place, as well as all indoor workplaces, and in all public transport, as well as a port, bus, and train stations. The ban also encompasses all airports (outside their specially-designated smoking areas) as well as in every waiting room of public services.

The fine for business owners who own premises smaller than 100 square meters (1076 square feet) and who allow smoking to occur remains at €500 for the first violation. The fine for the second violation, however, rises to €1,000, the third to €2,000, the fourth to €4,000 and the fifth to €8,000.

A business will be forced to shut down for ten days after its fourth smoking violation, and after the fifth violation, the business will have to cease operations entirely.

However, those who own larger businesses will face even tougher fines, beginning at €2,000 with the first violation and going all the way up to €10,000 for the fifth violation, before the business is forced to close permanently.

The new, tougher measures have received mixed reactions but are seen by many as the last chance for Greece to comply with current international practices and — at long last — respect the rights of those who do not smoke in the country’s public places.