By Poly Pantelides
THE HEALTH ministry is pushing ahead with a national committee to draw up an anti-smoking plan and supervise its implementation, the health minister said yesterday ahead of Friday’s World No Tobacco Day.
Petros Petrides said the cabinet has appointed the committee to see through a country-wide policy geared at reducing the number of smokers on the island.
“The goal is to raise awareness of the harmful consequences of smoking, prevent and discourage its use across all age groups, while supporting and encouraging smokers to stop,” Petrides said during a news conference.
Petrides said the ministry was now due to expand smoking cessation clinics in most of Cyprus’ districts – Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos – responding in the public’s demand for help in quitting smoking. Petrides said the ministry aimed to restructure the clinics and extend their opening hours. The public can call 22-605317 or 22-605323 to find out more.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said the force – which is represented in the national committee –reported 5,121 people last year for smoking violations, a figure comparable to 2011 when 5,290 reports were made. So far this year police have reported 1,554 smoking ban violations. Angelides said a closer look at the offending places showed that people had started implementing the law. “For example in 2012 reports of smoking in public venues concerned pubs, betting shops and clubs and although there is an issue with clubs, restaurants are complying.”
The final figures of a 2010 survey are expected to show a small drop in smoking among teenage school students, said the Cyprus Technology University and national committee member, Costas Christofi. A 2006 study showed that 35 per cent of boys aged 16-17 smoked and 23 per cent of girls of the same age group smoked. The figures for the boys were representative of the proportion of adult male smokers in the country whereas relatively more women picked up smoking later on, Christofi said.
“Research in other EU countries had shown that a legislative framework was the most effective way of reducing smoking,” said Soula Ioannou who represents the education ministry in the national committee.
“There has been progress that coincides with the (2010) legislation,” she said adding fewer school children were now taking up smoking.