Bulgarian Parliament Passes Full Smoking BanHealth | May 17, 2012, Thursday // 13:03| views
The Bulgarian Parliament adopted Thursday legislative amendments introducing a full ban on smoking in closed public spaces and areas.
The changes in the Law on Public Health mandate that smoking is fully banned in all work places, restaurants, bars, bus stations, airports, etc.
Airports however can be furnished with completely closed smoking chambers.
The law was passed after a heated debate, with 107 votes "for", 90 votes "against" and 8 abstentions.
Bulgaria's Association of Hotel and Restaurant Owners had warned that if introduced, the legislation could lead to a dramatic shrinking of turnover of food and drink establishments, estimated to a BGN 300 M yearly decrease.
In Parliament, opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party took up a similar position, arguing that the radical measure will gravely harm Bulgarian businesses in a time of economic hardship.
Socialist MP Lyuben Kornezov even went as far as to claim that "it is not smoking that is harmful, it is this ban," describing the regulation as "economically deleterious and unnatural."
Bulgaria's new Minister of Public Health Desislava Atanasova was present in the plenary hall of the Bulgarian Parliament for the debate and vote Thursday to defend the legislation.
According to statistics, some 39% of Bulgaria's population are smokers, but still over 60% are in support of the smoking ban.
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