State of Smoking in Greece
“Greeks aren’t highly motivated to quit. There is plenty of education, and we have smoking cessation centers, but they are not popular. There is not a lot of social pressure to quit smoking. Although there are laws prohibiting indoor smoking, those laws are not obeyed. So that reduces the social pressure. So, the smoker tends to forget the reasons why smoking is bad for you. Most Greek smokers only quit when they develop disease.”
– Konstantinos Farsalinos, MD, cardiologist and tobacco control researcher
Party to the world health organization framework convention on tobacco control (who FCTC):
Since the who FCTC:
- Smoking reduction: Overall smoking rates in Greece have decreased slightly from 40 percent in 2005 to 32.5 percent in 2014, according to the latest available data. During this period, smoking rates fell most noticeably in 2010, when more stringent laws took effect. Despite this, Greece still has one of the world’s highest smoking rates.
- Bans: Laws adopted in 2010 ban smoking in public places and ban tobacco advertising on TV and in the press.
- Health warnings: Since 2016, tobacco packaging has required graphic warnings to cover 65 percent of the cigarette packages.
- Tobacco tax rates: By 2016, repeated hikes in cigarette tax resulted in taxes equaling 90 percent of the cost of the cigarette pack.
As a member of the EU, tobacco product regulation falls mainly under the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). Under the TPD, Greece has implemented regulations concerning tobacco product flavors, ingredients, warning labels, advertising bans, and sales resticitions. Smokeless tobacco products for oral use are banned, and e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products are allowed and subject to ingredient, packaging, warning label, and advertising restrictions.
Greeks have strong cultural associations with smoking. It is associated with friends, pleasure, and relaxation. Smoking is an accepted tradition, so there is little discussion about motivation or social pressure to quit.
Views of Alternatives to Smoking:
Greeks have a high awareness about electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.
By the Numbers:
- Approximately 3 million people ages 15 and older currently smoke.
- 1 in 4 students aged 13-15 started smoking before the age of 10.
- Approximately 19,000 smoking-related deaths are estimated to occur each year.
- Tobacco-attributable disease accounts for nearly 15 percent of all healthcare spending in Greece.