Bulgaria - govt to weaken full smoking ban to be effective June 1, 2010..

February 19, 2010 - The Members of the Parliament (MPs) from the ruling GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria) party proposed the annulment of the full smoking ban that should become effective in Bulgaria on June 1, 2010.

Bulgarian lawmakers voted on Friday, May 15, 2009 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 proposal states that for restaurants, clubs and coffee shops with an area less than 100 square meters, the owner can himself decide if smoking would be allowed, while for larger establishments there must be a well-isolated smoking space.

The motive behind the proposal is that the full ban would harm restaurant businesses and the tourist sector and would be frequently violated anyway. 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 Bulgaria smoke for a population of 7.6 million.

The full ban is to remain effective for all other public spaces, the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party proposes. GERB says the transition to a full ban must be done in stages and completed in the next 5 years.

The smoking ban was decided on by the previous Parliament and is part of the Health Act amendments.

Reference: Bulgaria Ruling GERB against Full Smoking Ban, Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency), 2/18/2010.

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