By Vicky Katehaki
When George Balafoutis returned to Greece from New York to work for Microsoft in Athens, he already had in mind another enterprise that he planned to run in parallel with his job. He named it akapnos.gr (meaning “smokeless”) began the work of developing it, and launched it a little over a month ago.
The website is an effort to create a catalogue of all the venues in Greece that strictly do not allow smoking indoors (while in Greece an anti-smoking law has been passed theoretically prohibiting indoor smoking, it is barely enforced and many establishments ignore it). Restaurants, bars and cafes featured on the site have provided akapnos with written assurances that they are committed to not allowing smoking.
As of time of writing the site has 133 venues listed all around the country, a number that Balafoutis hopes will grow by the day.
“For months we have spent countless hours talking with owners around Greece. Many of those who we came in contact with – especially small business owners – told us that they have taken a financial hit due to their decision to implement the anti-smoking law in their businesses.” Balafoutis, said, explaining that the initiative is “non-smoking, not anti-smoking.”
“Our goal is not to put customers or business owners in a difficult position. Businesses that allow smoking, or smokers themselves don’t bother us, just as we don’t bother them. What we are interested in is giving a large part of the population the choice they are looking for in smoke-free spaces,” he says.
Together with George Balafoutis, another two volunteers Isabella Georgiou and Stavros Papadakis have joined the movement’s core team and the goal is for it to grow even bigger.
“This is not a one-off effort, we will continue to locate smoke-free establishments and advertise them,” Isabella says, adding, “We want to reach the point where there will be so many smoke-free establishments that there won’t be any need for them to be advertised by special websites.”
All those looking to enjoy their meal or drinks without the aroma of someone else’s cigarette can now visit akapnos.gr from their computer or smartphone, choose the category of venue they are looking for and then use the map to locate them.
“Our website has been designed to be responsive, meaning that it adapts to any size screen and is easy to use either on a phone or desktop. The basic principles of akapnos.gr is minimalism and easy of use,” says Stavros Papadakis.