Full Smoking Ban in Bulgaria On Hold until 2014 - ReportHealth | January 24, 2011, Monday // 09:01| views
Bulgaria has one of the highest smokers' rates in the EU at some 39% of people declaring themselves daily smokers, topped only by Greece at 42%. File photo
The full smoking ban in Bulgaria has been postponed for January 1, 2014, the private TV Channel bTV announced.
The agreement has been reached during a meeting between Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov and representatives of hotel and restaurant owners, who are quoted saying they were deeply grateful to Borisov for the "pleasant surprise" and vowed to "be ready" by 2014.
The full smoking ban was voted by the previous Parliament and was supposed to become effective on July 1, 2010, but the new majority of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party amended the ban and adopted new rules providing for partial smoking restrictions.
The restrictions became effective in December 2010, and owners of small establishments were supposed to decide if the facility would be smoking or non-smoking while those of larger ones were mandated to have separate smoking and non-smoking spaces. Just days ago, the Health Ministry announced the full smoking ban for small establishments would be introduced in the summer.
The series of postponements are explained with allowing owners to make gradual expenses to upgrade the facilities and include ventilation equipment and non-smoking areas.
According to cabinet experts, the measure would lead to the bankruptcy of 10% of restaurants and coffee shops, to BGN 550 M less in annual turnover and would leave 15 000 employees on the streets. Losses for the State amount to BGN 94 M in unpaid Value Added Tax (VAT), BGN 11 M in unpaid corporate tax, BGN 23 M from unpaid insurance contributions for laid-off workers and BGN 8 M for unemployment compensations.
Results from the December 2010 partial ban, show the turnover of facilities with separate smoking and non-smoking areas went down by 30%.