The only law that the Papandreou government actively pursued is the law against smoking in public places. There were incidents of public health officials actually charging café owners with heavy fines ( 6.000 Euros is the latest) for allowing smoking in their establishments.

This has proved to be one more mistake. It was the wrong time and the wrong place to tell people that “you are looking after their health”!! The government’s credibility dropped below zero. The Minister of Health asked for permission to smoke (this is just a rumor but I love it..) in the Parliament Building and one of the most popular stand-up comedians, Jimmy Panoussis, advertised his new act saying “come and smoke in peace in our establishment”!!!

Last year, when I visited Istanbul I was pleasantly surprised by the organized fashion in which the Turkish people faced the banning of smoking: large ashtrays in every corner of the city made the stubs invisible and no one tried to curb the law. Another one of the popular Greek sayings was disproved: “you smoke like a Turk”. Well, Turks do not smoke anymore and we are left alone.

Smoking and cigarettes abound in Greek modern music and their lyrics mark our peoples relationship to this imported “pleasure” or pleasure, please yourselves.

«Η ζωή μου όλη είναι ένα τσίγαρο που δεν  το γουστάρω αλλά το φουμάρω» – My whole life is a cigarette which I don’t like and yet I smoke  sings Akis Panou. On the other hand we have “άναψε το τσιγάρο δος μου φωτιά, έχω μεγάλο ντέρτι μεστην καρδιά» -“ light up a cigarette and give me a light I am desperately in love” – the translation cannot give the full impact but this is roughly the meaning.

The list of extremely popular songs about tobacco and smoking seems endless and it shows how much it has invaded and permeated social life in Greece.

Here is a more modern version sung by Kotsiras

It is one of the smaller sacrifices we have to bear and strangely enough the one we resist most!!