Greeks are known as hardcore smokers who live in a country doesn’t change habits easily, even if it is against the law. Harvard University in collaboration with Panayiotis Behrakis of the University of Athens, School of Medicine with the support of The Behrakis Foundation, have implemented a program to change the mentality of Greeks towards their favorite lethal habit, smoking.
HEART (Hellenic Action through Research Against Tobacco) promotes research towards the hazardous effects of smoking and also creates awareness on these effects. The second leg of the program primarily targets schools in Greece and focuses on elementary school children to prepare them so they never so much as touch a cigarette.
The latest presentation of HEART day in Greece, took place in Anatolia Elementary School in Thessaloniki where children had the chance to become familiar with the lethal effects of smoking and pass a strong anti-smoking message through painting signs and other recreational activities.
“By starting with kids you also target the parents,” said an elementary school teacher who took part in HEART day at Anatolia Elementary School in Thessaloniki.
“When many of these kids go home ,they start talking to their parents and asking them to quit smoking.”
During the event, Greek Reporter had the chance to talk to Dr. Panayiotis Behrakis about HEART ‘s mission and how the program has started to show results:
HEART has started making smoking history in Greece and the long-term goals of the project are as follows: for Greece to adopt and successfully implement proven tobacco control policies — including taxation — clean indoor air laws, graphic warnings on cigarette packs, bans on tobacco advertising and promotions through the implementation the FCTC and European Guidelines as well as having Greece fund comprehensive tobacco control programs, which include mass-media, youth education and empowerment, and smoking cessation services.
“The most important thing is to get the government to enforce the anti-smoking ban in Greece and I believe that in 2014 when Greece takes on the EU Presidency, the government will finally enforce the law.