Cyprus will ring in the New Year on Thursday night with the introduction of a blanket ban on indoor smoking in pubs, clubs and cafes that is among the toughest in Europe.
Cyprus has its fair share of heavy smokers but 2010 will see them having to follow in the footsteps of the French, Irish and Italians and puff outside as the authorities impose a new anti-smoking law from January 1.
AdvertisementProprietors and offenders face a maximum 2,000 euro (2,870 dollar) fine if they break the law by smoking in a closed public space.
A maximum 1,000 euro fine will also be imposed for any establishment that fails to clearly sign that an indoor area is a smoke-free zone.
The authorities have vowed zero-tolerance after a previous no-smoking ban in public buildings was frequently abused, although police say they will show some flexibility towards New Year revellers.
But police have the power to issue on-the-spot fines.
"We are determined to take every measure to ensure this law is implemented to the highest degree possible," said Health Minister Christos Patsalides.
He hopes the anti-smoking law will clear the air for passive smokers and give cigarette addicts an opportunity to quit.
Bar and club owners have voiced their disapproval to the move saying it could cost jobs as they expect a loss of custom from regular smokers.
Critics also argue that there should be smoking lounges and smoking floors in hotels.
Smoking is blamed for the island's relatively high cancer rate. Around 25 percent of Cypriots are smokers and EU data suggest that Cyprus is one of the worse places in Europe for exposure to second-hand smoke at home and at work.
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