Bulgarian lawmakers voted to ban smoking in all public places from June 2010..

May 15, 2009 - Bulgarian lawmakers (MP - members of parliament) voted on Friday to ban smoking in all public spaces from June 2010, ignoring protests from tobacco producers and the tourist industry in Europe's number two smoker. The ban is included in the changes of the Health Act, which are proposed to the Bulgarian Parliament by the Cabinet.

Until the bill is enforced there will be limited smoking restrictions that are active now. The Black Sea country has already banned smoking in hospitals, taxis and offices and requires restaurant and bar owners to designate non-smoking areas, but the measures have been widely ignored.

Bulgaria ranks second after Greece in the European Union in terms of number of regular smokers as a percentage of the population, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey.

More than half of its men and more than a third of women in the European Union newcomer of 7.6 million people smoke.

In January, the EU Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla backed a ban on smoking in all workplaces across the 27-member bloc, including in bars and restaurants. Many European countries have already imposed national bans but the level of exemptions varies widely.

More than five million people die of smoking related illnesses each year, the World Health Organisation says.

References: No Smoking in Bulgaria Indoor Public Spaces after June 2010; Bulgaria votes for smoking ban in public places, Reporting by Irina Ivanova, Editing by Jon Boyle, Reuters.com, 5/15/2009; Bulgaria Cabinet to Request Smoking Ban in Public Spaces

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