By Evie Andreou
House speaker Yiannakis Omirou has sent a letter to all MPs warning them to stop smoking in parliament.
In the letter, which followed a complaint received by the secretary general of the parliament, Vasiliki Anastasiadou, Omirou reminded his colleagues that smoking indoors was illegal.
Referring to the smoking ban law, Omirou told MPs that the provisions of this law “appear to be violated within the grounds of parliament”.
“You are thus reminded that according to this law, smoking is prohibited in spaces where there is smoking prohibition, excluding open air spaces,” the letter said. “It is therefore my request that this law is respected by everyone within the grounds of the House of Representatives.”
A second similar letter, this time by Anastasiadou, was also sent to all staff at the parliament. The letter came after the state health services received complaints that the smoking ban was not being observed in parliament.
“Unfortunately,” the second letter said, “the right of the non-smoker not to inhale dangerous substances from other people’s smoke within the parliament building was constantly being violated.”
The letter reminds staff that the smoking ban law was passed by the House plenum and has been in effect since January 2010 with a maximum penalty of €2,000. The only place where smoking is allowed is outside the building.
Officers of the parliament told the Sunday Mail on Saturday that the situation was unbearable for non-smokers and it was not uncommon for MPs and staff alike to smoke in the building’s corridors and in their offices.
The officer said Omirou himself has been seen smoking within the parliament building.
“Some do only smoke outside in the yard, but at times people just barge in our office holding lit cigarettes filling the air with smoke, without even thinking to put it out before entering,” the officer, who did not wished to be named, told the Sunday Mail.
This is not the first warning issued to parliament staff on flouting the smoking ban. In the last two years, employees have received four such letters in total. None of them, however, have mentioned any threat of punishment for violators of the ban.
By Evie Andreou