Bulgaria’s parliament voted on Thursday to prohibit smoking cigarettes in all indoor places starting with June 1 in an attempt to convince one of Europe’s heaviest smoking nations to quit smoking. The European Union’s poorest member state has joined a growing list of nations to not permitted smoking in bars and restaurants. It also agreed to ban smoking outside nurseries and schools and at stadiums during sports and cultural events.
The move was appreciated by health experts and also nonsmokers. More than 40 per cent of the adult inhabitants smokes in the Balkan country.
Inspectors will enforce fines of up to 5,000 levs ($3,300) for a first violation and up to 10,000 levs for a repeat offense for bar-owners or managers tolerating smoking in restricted places. Smokers who break the legislation face up to 500 levs for a first violation, which could be doubled for repeat violations.
A recent study showed 56 per cent of Bulgarians, the second heaviest smokers in the EU after Greeks, oppose the total prohibition on smoking in indoor public places.
The Bulgarian hotel and restaurant confederation argued that it expected up to 18,000 people to lose their works as some bars and restaurants would be forced to close as smokers are not permitted inside.
Businesses, already hit by the economic drop, have asked for a three-year reprieve for restaurants, bars and cafes, and even for nightclubs to be made total free.