The hospitality venues association (Pasika) has slammed a proposal by the Green Party to increase fines for smoking violations and amend regulations on smoking outdoors.

Their reaction came after the Greens recently re-submitted a bill proposal to amend the control of smoking law to the House health committee emerged after the May parliamentary elections.

“It is unacceptable, unreasonable and ill-timed,” president of Pasika, Fanos Leventis told the Cyprus Mail of the proposal.

“All businesspeople are struggling to survive during these difficult times and here comes an additional nuisance – and this is not to say that we should wait until the end of the pandemic,” he added.

The proposal aims to introduce a new definition for open outdoor spaces, which would essentially prohibit establishments to put up clear roll-up shades during the winter, thus closing up all sides of the exterior space.

It also provides for an increase in the fine in the case of first violation of selling tobacco products to minors to €3,000 from €2,000 and repeat violations to €5,000 from €3,000.

To impose the fines, the party proposed for the authorisation of any employee of the municipality or community council, whereas currently only police and a specific person from the local governments could issue fines.

The Greens also suggested the prohibition of cigar lounges in hotels and the inclusion of outdoor spaces of sport facilities and afternoon private and state schools in the prohibited smoking areas.

But Leventis insisted that “in essence, there is no real problem, there is a legislation and strict fines imposed on those who violate it.”

“There will be strong upheaval from the hotels but also hospitality venues,” Leventis said.

Explaining the reason behind the proposed amendments, Greens vice president Efi Xanthou told the Cyprus Mail that we should consider the vulnerable groups of population who have to suffer through second-hand smoke, which could be “more dangerous than actual smoking”.

“What about cancer patients who have to sit in an outdoor place that is closed on all sides with clear plastic enclosures?” Xanthou said.

A space that is closed using a temporary type of enclosure system is still considered an outdoor space based on the current legislation even if all sides are closed up, as long as there is an opening of at least 20 per cent of the total permitter walls or sides.

In response, Leventis said that if someone “does not wish to coexist with smokers in the outdoor space, then they can sit indoors where there are no smokers”.