Eased Smoking Ban Comes into Force in Bulgaria
After being in force just for three days, the full smoking ban, adopted by the previous parliament, is officially abolished as of June 4.
The amendments to the Health Act, which introduce more liberal rules for smoking in public spaces, have been promulgated in the Friday's edition of the State Gazette.
The actual introduction of the eased smoking regime however will be only after three months, during which the Council of Ministers must issue their own order specifying the rules for smoking in public spaces.
Under amendments that Bulgaria's parliament adopted last month smoking will be allowed in separate smoking spaces inside restaurants, bars, coffee shops, railroad stations, airports, ports, and bus stations.
The owners of restaurants, clubs and coffee shops with an area less than 50 square meters, should decide if smoking would be allowed.
The draft legislation surprisingly managed to fuse the ruling center-right GERB with the main opposition Socialist Party. The ad hoc coalition claimed that the proposed relaxation of a ban on smoking in all public places would avoid hurting the tourist industry during tough economic times.
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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