Joining other Greeks who have ignored five smoking bans in the last decade and light up just about wherever and wherever they want, Greek lawmakers are openly smoking in Parliament in violation of the law they passed, and in the building where they did it.
The defiance has angered 88 of the 300 Members of Parliament who wrote to the body’s speaker urging action against what they called a “pathetic and infuriating” state of affairs.
MP’s enjoy other special privileges as well and a lifestyle that has angered Greeks suffering under crushing austerity measures. Greek media reported that during debates, most of them are in the halls drinking whiskey and eating unlimited free food.
Greece has one of the European Union’s highest smoking rates but has given up on trying to enforce no smoking laws, including the last one in 2010 to outlaw smoking in enclosed public areas. Violators face fines of 50-500 euros, $68-680 which are rarely enforced and inspectors face resistance when they try to cite people for breaking the law.
People still light up freely in bars, cafes, restaurants – and Parliament. It wasn’t that long ago that they would even smoke in supermarkets, and doctors often smoke in hospitals. The lawmakers wrote that, apart from assembly halls, at times there is “not a single square meter” in Parliament where the law isn’t broken. It’s common in Greece for unpopular laws to be violated without recourse.