A NUMBER of MPs have co-signed a law proposal to amend the current smoking ban, which hopes to offer venues the right to have separate smoking areas.
According to DISY MP Andreas Themistocleous, who prepared the proposal, the current ban is not being adhered to, with members of the public smoking freely in entertainment venues – especially bars and nightclubs - in direct violation of the law, which came into effect in January this year.
The deputy felt it should be up to the public to decide whether they want to smoke or not – as long as they are not affecting anyone else.
“When the law was being passed, the margins were left for amendments,” he explained yesterday. “MPs promised to those who were reacting that the law would be implemented, a few months would pass and any weaknesses spotted would lead to amendments.”
He said the DISY, EDEK and DIKO MPs’ proposal offered venue owners the right to offer up to 50 per cent of the area to smokers – provided that the venue has an area of 70 square metres or more and the designated smoking area is completely separate and cut off.
“Our proposal for the smoking law is complete with justifications, it is balanced and it affects in no way whatsoever the rights of non smokers,” Themistocleous explained. “One thing is for sure: if the law remains as it is, it isn’t being implemented. So what is the use of this law? It needs to be amended. What we achieved here is a money-making machine for the government.”
The MP reasoned that it was illogical to allow the legal importation and sale of tobacco products, and then ban people from smoking them.
“Parliament can’t prevent members of the public from creating a club, where they could use this product,” he pointed out.
Ireland, Norway, Italy and Britain are among the states that implemented full smoking bans successfully.
However, Themistocleous suggested Cyprus follows the example of states such as Belgium and Bulgaria, where the smoking laws are not so severe.
“The seven MPs who co-signed the proposal feel the need for amendments,” he said. “Amendments that don’t affect non-smokers and don’t put their health or dignity at risk,” he added.
A prime example of how the current law has failed, said Themistocleous, was that there had been an increase in sales of tobacco products in the first four months of 2010, compared to the year before.
“The state’s income from taxes on tobacco products – without these being increased or altered in any way – reached €59 million in the first half of 2010, compared to €54 million in 2009,” he pointed out. “This means we have achieved the exact opposite from what we hoped to achieve with this law.”
The relevant law today is not being implemented, said Themistocleous. “A quick stroll around the island’s nightclubs will show you that from 11 pm onwards, youths are smoking freely.”
The DISY MP maintained there should be a place in society for non smokers as well as smokers. “I won’t go into the ethics of whether someone should smoke or not; obviously we shouldn’t smoke,” said the keen smoker.
“But if someone is to quit something, this is something that can’t be enforced with orders or laws. It is the personal life of each person and in a complete democracy, anyone can affect their health as much as they like. Anyway, there may be many other things that could be a lot more harmful than smoking.”
Themistocleous admitted there were many laws that were passed in parliament but had never been implemented, “due to their extremity or hollowness”.
The law proposal, which was submitted to the House Health Committee, and is still to be discussed, was co-signed by DISY’s George Georgiou, Soteris Sampson and Andreas Kyprianou, as well as DIKO’s Neophytos Constantinou and Zacharias Koulias, and Rikkos Erotokritou of EVROKO.
by Jacqueline Agathocleous
Published in Cyprus Mail on October 16, 2010
Last night, I watched on TV a debate on the "severe" smoking ban in Cyprus which came into effect on January 1, 2010. The gist of the debate was that two years later the smoking ban doesn't work in Cyprus . Consequently, both smokers, non-smokers and many government officials are disatisfied with the law. Many breeches of the law have been reported, yet the police don't seem to be in contol! Now, it seems, we're looking for amendments to the law.
Much ado about nothing, if you ask me. I am a smoker and the ban made me cut down a lot! I don't have a problem to go outside and smoke if I feel like it. But I do hate people smoking indoors in public places and NO ONE tells them off! What's more, the ban does not consider smokers as second-rate citizens. Yet, I hear that there are indoor smoking areas in many EU countries such as Germany, UK, Austria, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian Countries, Hungary, Spain - the exceptions being Cyprus, Italy and France. OK, here in Cyprus no one can smoke in any public place. You can only smoke at home or outside. I believe that the smoking ban shouldn't be amended. I also believe that non-smokers shouldn't be forced to work in smoking areas or breathe in our smoke! To me this is a crime.I also think that the Greeks and Greek Cypriots should follow the law. The law does not only protect non-smokers from our bad habit, but it also helps us smokers to cut down - don't you think so?
Is there a smoking ban law in your country? How do you feel about it?