Establishments will be Closed in the Case of Systematic Violations of the Ban on Smoking
The health ministry is starting to listen about proposals from the non-government sector to impose more drastic sanctions for breaching the ban on smoking in indoor public places. In the event of a systematic breach of the smoking ban, the facility will be shut down for a specified period of time. This includes amendments to the Health Act, prepared by the Ministry of Health.
The idea of closing badly behaving establishments is from the non-governmental organizations "Coalition for a life without tobacco smoke" and "Bulgaria without smoke". It provides pubs that allow smoking, even though they have been fined for a second offense, when registering a third violation, be closed for 6 months, and a sign explaining the cause should be put in visible place so that more people are aware about the strict rules. The two organizations are motivated by the fact that there are restaurants that have been fined many times, but still allow smoking. It is unclear whether the MH will agree to such severe measures, or that the sanctions will be much lighter - for example, to close down after a few violations, and only for about a month.
MH will propose other measures for better control. "It is envisaged that the manager on site of an establishment who has allowed smoking to be sanctioned as well as the owner," the agency explains. At present, the acts imposed by health inspectors often fall into court, because legal responsibility lies with a legal entity, and it is usually not at the site during the inspection and the act is issued to another. Another change provides for more institutions to be able to impose fines, not just as now - only regional health inspections. Among them will probably be the Ministry of the Interior, the Food Agency, the Labor Inspectorate.
The bill will also prohibit the use of hookah. It is currently allowed to smoke hookahs in indoor public spaces, there are no restrictions on age and they are also available to children. The Ministry of Health announced that it will take action as early as the summer of last year, but there are no proposals yet.
For the time being, it is unclear whether there will be any changes in another problem in the control of smoking bans - the lack of a legal regulation of what exactly is a closed public space. At present, this is not described either in the law or its ordinance, which allows temporary constructions, covered and closed from everywhere, to be open spaces from legal perspective and to smoke there.
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