Breath of fresh air since smoking ban

THERE has been a 90 per cent improvement in the quality of air in enclosed public spaces since a blanket smoking ban was introduced at the beginning of the year, a study released yesterday has found.
“The results of the study support that the smoking ban in all public places had a dramatic improvement in the quality of air in enclosed spaces and was especially effective in reducing interior pollution levels by some 90 per cent,” an announcement by Cyprus’ University of Technology (TEPAK) said.
Working in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health, TEPAK conducted two air quality measurements, one between April 2007 to January 2008 and again from March to May of 2010, in 21 different places of recreation around Cyprus.
Professor Gregory N Connolly of Harvard School of Public Health, who specialises in research on smoking said, “these results have surpassed all our expectations and this means that the customers and workers of the bars and restaurants in Cyprus can enjoy a safer, healthier environment as those in other countries which have already succeeded in banning smoking in all public spaces.”
The ban, which came into force on January 1 was vehemently opposed by the owners of bars and night-clubs, who argued that it would hurt their business.
In fact, in the first month, they said that their business was down by 40 per cent.
But while there was a widespread compliance at first, there have been increasing complaints that some clubs have reverted back to their old habits, allowing customers to smoke indoors.
Official police figures released yesterday show a total of 3,288 violations islandwide for the period between January and July.
Police issued on-the-spot fines for 3,230 while the other 58 cases are still to be brought before a court.
During this time police carried out 27,500 checks.
Police are authorised to issue €85 fines while violators going to court face a €2,000 fine. That includes both the owner and the smoker.
Owners of establishments also face fines of up to €1,000 for failing to place highly visible no smoking signs where applicable.
Limassol topped the charts with 1,820 violations with second-place Nicosia recording 755.
In Limassol, bars accounted for 417 of the violations, with clubs and cafes adding a further 329.
The majority in Limassol – 632 – came from an unspecified group of “other” venues.
According to the statistics, smoking is clearly a male-dominated sport, with 2,653 reported by police compared to 635 women.
The TEPAK report will come as bad news for a group of mostly DIKO and DISY deputies who are seeking to amend the smoking ban when parliament meets again after the summer recess. The deputies want designated smoking areas in hotels and larger restaurants and bars, with the owners of those premises smaller than 70 square metres having the right to decide for themselves whether to be completely smoking or non-smoking.
“The current law is impractical and is not enforced,” said DISY Andreas Themistocleous back in July.