Police have eased up on their checks on whether catering establishments comply with the law against smoking, opting instead to focus on other law enforcement duties, Phileleftheros reported on Monday.
It said that official figures for the first nine months of the year show that there have been 10,497 such checks, and 1,234 reported violations. This compares to 24,114 checks and 2,569 reported violations in the same period last year. In 2016, there were 25,720 checks and 3,023 reported violations while 2015 saw a high of 35,180 checks and 7,852 reported violations.
Phileleftheros said the drastic drop in checks followed a decision by police to focus on organized crime. It added that police want to be exempted from what it considers non-police work so that it can focus on fighting crime and policing the roads.
The paper notes that the law on smoking can also be enforced by health inspectors and municipalities which could step up their efforts rather than rely on police to check out catering establishments.
As a result of the easing of inspections, the law prohibiting smoking is being systematically flouted, it added.
Phileleftheros said that besides the 1234 reported violations, a criminal case was opened in 55 cases. It said that 1289 people were booked, of whom 982 are owners of catering establishments, 296 are employees and 11 are customers. Most of the cases were at cafes and clubs, followed by restaurants and taverns, and then discos and clubs.