Bulgaria MPs Loosen Up Smoking Ban on 1st Read
The Bulgarian parliament approved on first read the proposed relaxation of Bulgaria's smoking ban in all closed public spaces.
A majority of 85 Bulgarian MPs voted Wednesday in favor of the motion to ease ban on smoking in all indoor public places. 53 MPs were against the proposal while 5 abstained from voting.
Most of the MPs who supported the proposed smoking ban relaxation were from the ruling GERB right-wing party, two MPs from the opposition – the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms party (DPS) respectively – also voted for the motion.
The ban on smoking in all public places in Bulgaria is set to be enforced June 1, 2010.
However, the GERB Cabinet has come up with a proposal to relax the all-out smoking ban.
The draft amendments of the Health Act on easing the much anticipated all-out public smoking ban has surprisingly managed to bring together 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.
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