Bulgaria - WHO upset with Bulgaria's weakened smoking ban..

May 22, 2010 - The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, has slammed the Bulgaria government’s decision to delay the full smoking ban in public places.

Jakab made WHO’s feelings known to the Bulgarian Deputy Health Minister, Desislava Dimitrova, in Geneva in the 63rd session of the World Health Assembly. WHO are also set to send an open letter to the Bulgarian Parliament over the delayed ban.

The Bulgarian Parliament passed Tuesday, at second read, the more liberal rules for smoking in public spaces and abolished for good the full smoking ban.

The smoking ban was voted by the previous Parliament and was supposed to become effective on June 1, 2010 but the current Members of the Parliament approved the amendments of the Health Care Act, proposed by the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party.

Smoking will now be allowed in separate smoking spaces inside restaurants, bars, coffee shops, railroad stations, airports, ports, and bus stations. In restaurants with less than 50 square meters, the owner is to decide it the establishment will be smoking or non-smoking. In office buildings, employers have the right to designate special smoking spaces. In night clubs smoking will be allowed without the requirement to have separate non-smoking places.

The opposition accused GERB of lobbing and human rights violations. Only 85 MPs were present for the vote with 65 voting for the abolishment of the full smoking ban and 20 against.

Reference WHO Scolds Bulgaria over Liberal Smoking Ban, Novinite,com (Sofia News Agency), 5/21/2010.

Bulgaria has signed (22 December 2003) and ratified (7 November 2005) the
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Treaty.

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