Christos Patsalides decided to examine the current law’s shortcomings after EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou expressed her disapproval of Cyprus’ failure properly to implement the ban.
Earlier in the week, Vassiliou sent a letter to Justice Minister Kypros Chrysostomides asking for a stricter implementation of the law for smoking in public areas.
In response, Chrysostomides blamed the exceptionally low penalties. He said the current fines – €34 for the law being broken in nightclubs and €85 on public vehicles – did not act as a deterrent and called on an amendment to make them stricter.
The Chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee, Ionas Nicolaou of DISY, agrees. “For the law to be properly implemented, it needs to be amended,” he yesterday told the Sunday Mail. He suggested a general smoking ban in all public areas, unless an establishment has a separate area for people to smoke.
“The law needs to become clearer,” Nicolaou pointed out.
The 2002-2004 Protection of Health (smoking) Unified Laws prohibit smoking in all public places, including nightclubs, cafés and restaurants, in all government buildings, public transport and in private cars carrying any passenger under the age of 16.
Each individual bar, nightclub or restaurant has the right to designate a well ventilated smoking area.
According to Chrysostomides, police have carried out 21,381 checks on nightclubs since the beginning of the year, 1,086 of which were reported for not implementing the law’s provisions.
But he pointed out it was hard to control all nightclubs, bars, cafés and restaurants all the time.
By Jacqueline Theodoulou, Cyprus Mail, October 12, 2008