Anti-smoking Campaign: HEART Saves Hearts in Greece

Panayitis Behrakis of the HEART Antismoking Campaign

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.


  1. If the government and Harvard University are sincere about their claims then outlaw all tobacco products and make do without the tax revenue. Otherwise this is nonsense. Greece is Europe’s second largest grower of tobacco after Italy, so the adverse economic impact will not just be smokers. Maybe growing marijuana would be an viable alternative as our visionary Harvard alumni and former Prime Minister Papandreou has suggested.

  2. Legalizing Mariijuana is the greatest thing that could happen to a country

    Marijuana has been proven to be a Miracle Cure/Medicine for over 20+ serious ailments/illnesses, people being able to grow some in their backyard would be amazing

    The Non-THC(no drug) of Marijuana, Hemp can be used on countless things, it is stronger and better than cotton, makes for the best quality T-shirts, clothes, backpacks, blankets, towels, etc . . is a food, fuel, and generally can be used in almost anything/everything

    I wish one day it is legalized in Greece, I see no reason why it cant be as so many greeks already smoke weed

  3. If it was legalized the government would quickly shift emphasis of tax revenue from tobacco to marijuana and highly regulate growing and selling. Medicinal benefits aside, this would create another much greater concern for businesses and employees. Tobacco has also been found to have preventive medicinal qualities, but you’ll never hear that from a Harvard professor, government official or WHO bureaucrat.