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Health Ministry in Cyprus to Launch Anti-Smoking Campaign

Update Date: Nov 17, 2012 05:45 AM EST

Latest statistics which reveal that up to one in three secondary school students in Cyprus are smokers have pushed the health ministry and the police to launch an anti-smoking campaign.

"Smoking is the only cause of death that is preventable in the world today. It kills six million people a year, 600,000 of which have only been exposed to passive smoking. Unless urgent action is taken, tobacco will kill more than one billion people this century," said health minister Androulla Agrotou.

Agrotou who spoke at a news conference said that the campaign would focus on drivers and smoking inside cars, and would go on for a week, starting Sunday. There will be flyers distributed by police in order to inform the drivers of the law.

According to the law, it is illegal to smoke inside any vehicle carrying children aged 16 or below and offenders would pay a fine of up to €1,700 and/or would face up to six months' imprisonment, Cyprus Mail reported.

Agrotou added that passive smoking in cars is 23 times more harmful than in a smoking area and the public needs to be aware of the health risks.

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said that the cops will be intensifying checks and fining law breakers.

A recent study by Costas Christofi, academic at the Cyprus University of Technology, revealed that in lyceums, 32 per cent of students consume tobacco products including shishas, and in gymnasiums some 17 per cent, the report said.

Following the guidelines from WHO and the European Union, an inter-departmental team created an anti-smoking policy, which has been approved by the cabinet. This policy is aimed at preventing children from smoking and also to help smokers quit. It also aims at promoting a smoke-free environment through legislative and other measures, Agrotou said.

Further, she said that the ministry is appointing a national committee which will implement and supervise related activities.

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