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Boutaris against smoking ban

Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris Speaking in the city council, pushed his agenda for equal smoking and non smoking rights and spoke about about terrorism imposed on smokers.

He is a notorious smoker and has never been shy in expressing his opinion about smokers’ rights. Being a politician, albeit not a career one, one would expect Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris would be less outspoken on such a taboo issue. But this is not America and he is not the most conventional political figure.

Speaking in the city council, the mayor pushed his agenda for equal smoking and non smoking rights. He talked about terrorism against smokers and revealed he is considering sending an official proposal to the Health ministry, containing amendments to the existing anti-smoking law.

“We can’t have this kind of terrorism imposed on smokers”, he proclaimed. “Restaurants and night clubs are suffering under the penalties imposed on them when there are reports that they allow smoking and we all know how this is done”, he added, referring to competitors who benefit by reporting and interested parties who are influencing the size of the fines. “In other European countries, smoking is allowed under certain conditions”, he said.

Mr. Boutaris, up for re-election and leading the polls in the upcoming municipal ballots, spoke about equal rights for smokers and non smokers. “They have no right to banish me, as a smoker, to stand outside in the cold and the snow”, he pointed out. Then he said he intends to send a proposal to the Health ministry for an amendment to the anti-smoking law.

In a country with a record number of addicted smokers, a not so innocent reader might think this is all just political maneuvering by a cunning politician raising awareness on an issue a silent majority of citizens might applaud. It could be the case for any other political operative, but Yiannis Boutaris has a reputation for speaking his mind in many taboo issues, without considering the potential backlash. Perhaps that’s the reason why after a full term as mayor, he is still so popular with voters.