By Paula Manoli-Gray
It’s flip-flop time again! And I don’t mean the footwear; I mean the flip-flopping that is still happening with certain legislation on the island.
Last week, it was reported that new amendments to our smoking laws were passed – those same laws that have been going back and forth for years now when smoking bans and changes should have been implemented in line with the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive long ago.
But in Cyprus, the law has been held hostage/flouted due to the protests and demands of the high number of smokers on the island, and the venues that do not want to upset them and lose their money.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with people who smoke – or their habit; everyone is free to make their own decisions. But whilst smokers want the right to smoke, it is a non-smokers right not to have to suffer as a result of it.
For me personally, it is very logical that if you are a smoker, you can easily pop out to enjoy your cigarette if you are sat down for a meal or a drink. But if you are a non-smoker in a closed venue, you cannot escape the second-hand smoke and the smell, and will instead have to sacrifice your health – or that of your children – if you wish to have that meal or drink out.
All winter, we have had the same argument with venues that claim that it is okay to smoke in their closed spaces because the walls are ‘not real’, or that the space is considered ‘outdoors’ thanks to one, thin gap at the top of the wall that has not been fully closed. Oh please!
And venues can get very defensive and aggressive towards non-smokers if you point out that the smoke is unable to leave the premises, or that it is not legal. But of course, a non-smoker’s money is not worth as much as a smoker’s – or at least that is how venues make non-smokers feel on the island.
And so, now that the weather is finally warming up, and we can actually sit outside, the powers-that-be have decided to make their decisions about smoking indoors! Coincidence? I think not.
And what is this decision? Well, there were various proposals rejected and passed covering different scenarios regarding smoking in public places, but there really is no point in my stating them. The words of the politicians themselves say it all: “The end result serves the interests of specific shop-owners”, said one, and “a big loop-hole has been opened”, said another. And as we all know, there is no smoke (-ing) without fire…