Bulgaria - majority of all Bulgarians - 78% are against the smoking ban delay..

April 16, 2010 - At the end of February 2010 the Bulgaria's ruling party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) announced it may delay until 2011 the introduction of a new smoking ban in the country. (Bulgaria - justifying why smoking ban won't go into effect on June 1, 2010..; Bulgaria - ruling party may delay smoking ban until 2011..; Bulgaria - govt to weaken full smoking ban to be effective June 1, 2010..)

A poll conducted by the health portal DoctorOnline shows the majority of all Bulgarians - 78% are against the delay of the smoking ban in public spaces. The poll was conducted over the amendments in the Health Act proposed at the end of February by the ruling GERB party. The poll was conducted among 1 186 users of the site.

The GERB Members of the Parliament based their proposal to delay the smoking ban on the presumption that limiting smoking in public spaces in times of crisis will hurt the business. GERB want to postpone the ban by several months to a year. The initial date of the introduction of the smoking ban in Bulgaria, voted by the previous Parliament, was June 1, 2010.

58% of the respondents are firmly against the delay, which they say is unfair to non-smokers while another 20% believe the move will lead to the increase of cases of lung and other cancers. The above opinion is shared by the majority in a number of EU countries, recent debates show, while research conducted by the World Health Organization reveals passive smokers are more in danger of lung diseases than the active ones.

Only 11% of the Bulgarian respondents support the GERB proposal and say the delay will help the business. Another 11% state they are firmly against the ban because they want to continue to be able to smoke at bars, restaurants and coffee shops.

Recently several NGOs (non-government agencies) and citizens joined their effort against the GERB proposal in the so-called Coalition for Life without Cigarette Smoke. The Coalition is challenging Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, to race with them in a run for health on Saturday, April 10 at the Ariana Lake in the central Sofia park “Borisova Gradina.” Borisov is known to be an avid cigar smoker.

Bulgarians, along with Greeks, are the heaviest smokers in the European Union (EU). Current legislation in Bulgaria bans smoking in public buildings like state institutions, shops, schools and hospitals. It is still legal to smoke in cafes and restaurants but their owners are required to clearly detach smoking from non-smoking areas.

Reference: Majority of Bulgarians Support Smoking Ban, Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency), 4/9/2010.

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