Bulgaria MPs Debate Eased Ban on Smoking
Bulgaria's parliament will start on Friday to debate at first reading the ruling-party proposal to water down a new smoking ban in the country.
The draft legislation has surprisingly managed to fuse the ruling center-right GERB with the main opposition Socialist Party. The ad hoc coalition claims that the proposed relaxation of a ban on smoking in all public places would avoid hurting the tourist industry during tough economic times.
Under the proposed changes the owners of restaurants, clubs and coffee shops with an area less than 100 square meters, should decide if smoking would be allowed, while for larger establishments there must be a well-isolated smoking space.
The full ban is to remain effective for all other public spaces.
Similar measures were imposed as part of a partial smoking ban in 2005 but have been widely ignored.
Bulgaria ranks second after Greece in the EU in terms of number of regular smokers as a percentage of the population, according to a Eurobarometer survey.
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