Bar, restaurant and nightclub owners in Cyprus are up in arms over government plans to defend smoking at the upcoming casino resort.
Speaking to state radio, Pancyprian Association of Leisure Centre Owners (PASIKA) Head Phanos Leventis said comments by the state that smoking areas were needed in the casino in order to keep investors were “laughable”.
The Secretary General at Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEVE) Marios Tsiakkis had previously told CyBC reporters that the chamber “stood to lose hundreds of millions” if it moved to ban smoking in the casino.
Tsiakkis also said that a separate smoking room with games would be built in a bid to keep non-smokers happy while modern technological advances meant that special filters can be installed to keep the air clean.
His comments were prompted by plans from opposition party Akel and its MP Aristos Damianou to suggest bill amendments that would ban smoking in casinos.
Diko MP Angelos Votsis also slammed Damianou’s comments saying smoking in the casinos was not up for discussion arguing that the repercussions on the island’s economy “would be catastrophic”. He also said that the agreement terms by the investor for the creation of the casino was that smoking would be allowed.
“Some will cry and some will laugh after hearing these two [Tsiakkis and Votsis] put forward this ridiculous argument”, said Leventis.
“It is laughable to say that ‘we will lose the investor’ if they ban smoking. We are around 3,500 establishments forced to operate under stringent non-smoking laws and we get fined and dragged to court when we set-up smoking areas.
“Now all of a sudden, there is technology to improve air quality and it is possible to have a smoking area. But when we asked the state, they told us no such technology existed!”
He added: “This is totally unfair as well as ridiculous. How can those officials look us in the eyes now? It is regrettable that an entire state is dictated the law by a foreign investor.”
The contract to build the casino in Limassol was won by the Melco-Hard Rock Resort Cyprus Consortium earlier this year.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there is clear scientific evidence of an increased risk of lung cancer in non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke (SHS).
This increased risk is estimated at 20% in women and 30% in men who live with a smoker. Similarly, it has been shown that non-smokers exposed to SHS in the workplace have a 16 to 19% increased risk of developing lung cancer.
The risk of presenting lung cancer increases with the degree of exposure. The Californian Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA) estimates that SHS causes 3000 deaths each year due to lung cancer in non-smokers.