Bulgarians Hold Nationwide Rally against Full Smoking Ban
The most passionate chain-smokers argue that the ban on smoking has been approved not without the assistance and financial support of drug cartels. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency
Tobacco-addicted Bulgarians are due to take to the streets on Thursday in protest against the ban on smoking in all enclosed public spaces, enforced as of June 1.
Organizers claim that the initiative aims to raise awareness of smokers' rights and the difficulties that small and medium-sized enterprises faced once the ban was introduced in cafes, bars and restaurants, regardless of size.
Rallies are scheduled to take place in Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Veliko Tarnovo, Stara Zagora, Targovishte, Haskovo and Shumen.
Business representatives recently approached Prime Minister Boyko Borisov insisting on revoking the ban, but the government has firmly refused to lift it.
The business asked Borisov to initiate debates and changes in the Health Act banning smoking in public spaces.
They propose to separate facilities as well as space inside restaurants and bars in smoking and non-smoking with strict adherence to the requirements for air-conditioning, ventilation, and not allowing minors inside the smoking places.
Meanwhile, two Members of the Parliament have filed a proposal to amend the Health Care Act to make the ban partial on grounds the full ban is dooming the locales' business over reduced revenues and layoffs of personnel.
The share of smokers among Bulgarian teenagers is disturbingly high, with 45% of teenage girls and 32.7% of teenage boys smoking.
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