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This Greek Village is an Oasis of Non-Smoking in a Nation of Smokers

A small coffee shop on Crete. Credit: Romtomtom/Wikimedia commons

For the past forty years, no resident in the village of Skotino in the Hersonissos municipality of Heraklion, Crete, has taken a puff on a cigarette. The picturesque little town is a paradise for non-smokers in a country where smoking is prevalent.
Today, no one remembers how the residents took the decision to faithfully adhere to their own anti-smoking vows. But somehow, each and every one of them managed to create a nonsmoking tradition, as part of an unwritten law unique to Greece.
Their decision to exchange the unhealthy habit of tobacco smoking with a healthier way of life wasn’t based on some anti-smoking campaign imposed from outside or any kind of legal prohibition.
The approximately seventy residents of Skotino cannot even really explain why they made their decision to turn their backs on smoking, but over the years, the trend has become their common purpose. And it has now evolved over the years into something of an unwritten law.

“There has been no smoking in this village since the 1970s. This has passed on to our children, with the result that even the younger generation does not have this bad habit,” Zaharias Moudatsakis told the local news site Cretapost.
The residents of Skotino are proud of their successful resistance against smoking and they are only perplexed as to why there aren’t many more people who follow their lead.
“I am very curious to know why people smoke. We know how harmful is smoking… Here in Skotino, we prefer to drink a raki or a wine rather than light up a cigarette,” local resident Vasilis Zervakis says.
Cigarettes are simply not sold in the village, and even most visitors respect Skotino’s unwritten law.
Greek journalist Nikos Sarantos visited Skotino and produced this fascinating video of the one and only non-smoking village in Greece, a European nation which otherwise has a high proportion of smokers.

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