Bulgaria’s ATAKA Party Leader Proposes to Relax Smoking Ban
The leader of Bulgarian opposition ATAKA party Volen Siderov on Thursday proposed to Parliament to relax the total ban on indoor smoking in public spaces.
In a motion submitted to the Health Commission in Parliament Siderov suggested that smoking should be allowed in restaurants, pubs, night clubs, cafes and airports as long as the premises have areas designated for smokers. A partial ban on indoor smoking in public spaces had existed until 2012 when smoking was banned altogether.
According to Siderov, the total ban on smoking has led to an increase in unemployment by approximately 30,000 people and has caused a decrease in revenues of restaurant, pub and cafe owners of no less than BGN 300M.
Atanas Zafirov, a MP from opposition Socialist party, supported the proposed relaxation of the smoking ban.
''Time has shown that the ban does not work,'' Zafirov said, according to dnevnik.bg. “When the law is unjust, it cannot produce good results. It is discriminatory in its nature, there is no such law in most European countries.''
According to data published on the website of the European Commission, however, 17 EU countries have comprehensive smoke-free laws in place. Among these, Ireland, the UK, Greece, Bulgaria, Malta, Spain and Hungary have the strictest smoke-free provisions with a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public places, on public transport and in workplaces, with only limited exceptions allowed.
Health Minister Petar Moskov said that neither the Health Ministry, nor the government would support any relaxation to the complete ban on indoor smoking.
He also announced that an anti-smoking campaign aimed at students will be launched soon. The current anti-smoking measures and their effectiveness will be re-evaluated, he added.
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