Vladimir Spidla, the EU Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner, has announced his intention to introduce an EU-wide smoking ban. At a recent press conference in Brussels a spokeswoman for Mr Spidla said that the Commission would like to see a ban in all workplaces, as protection against passive smoking currently varies across Europe. The Commissioner is particularly concerned about bars and restaurants where smoking is still permitted in many Member States. The Commission will be consulting with employers and unions about its proposals. Any legislation will not come into effect until after the new Commission has been appointed, which will take place in Autumn 2009.
The Greek Government has recently announced a ban on smoking in public places, including bars, restaurants and workplaces, from 1 January 2010. Greece is one of the only Member States where smoking is still allowed in almost all public places.
Passive smoking kills some 80,000 people a year in Europe. According to a survey carried out by the European Commission in 2005, tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable death in Europe, accounting for more than half a million deaths every year. Despite the varying support among their law-makers, nine out of ten Europeans said they would like smoke-free offices.