Around 31 per cent of the population smoke, and the cost of tobacco-related illness amounts to about €2,000 for each smoker, or three per cent of Cyprus’ GDP, the health ministry said on Monday.
“The harmful effects of smoking are widely known in society, particularly in Cyprus, where smoking is a central public health risk factor,” said director general of the health ministry, Christina Yiannaki.
Speaking ahead of World No Tobacco Day which is observed on May 31, Yiannaki welcomed the smoking ban in schools which, since new regulations passed in February, now extends to outside the school grounds. She said the ban would contribute to protecting young people from the harmful effects of passive smoking and make it less likely that they would pick up the habit from others. Smoking is also not allowed immediately outside work places any more.
“As Cyprus is among the top countries on exposure to smoking in the work place with a percentage of 55 per cent, the ban on indoor smoking in workplaces is of particular importance to us,” she said.
“We believe that with the application of the smoke-free workplace, we are taking a major step towards ensuring the health of the workforce, whether they are smokers or non-smokers.”
New regulations also ban smoking at the entrances of hospitals and health centres and new graphic, health warning illustrations have been added to tobacco products as part of harmonisation with EU law.
“The ministry of health in cooperation with the University of Cyprus is carrying out a survey on the impact of the warnings on the public and the results are expected soon.”
The ministry has launched a public information campaign to highlight the new smoking regulations passed earlier this year.
According to Yiannaki, 294 people had applied to take part in state-run ‘stop-smoking’ clinics operating in Cyprus, adding there had been a success rate of 47 per cent.
The ministry also operates the 1431 telephone helpline to assist smokers who want to take part in programmes to quit.