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Government wants ban on smoking in public places as of June 1 2010

Date: 20.11.2008

A ban on smoking in public places and workplaces in Bulgaria will come into effect on June 1 2010 should Parliament approve the amendments to the Public Health Act put forward by the Cabinet on November 20 2008. November 20 is the world non-smoking day.

According to a statement on the Government's website, the Cabinet decided to suggest the amendments to the act, which will ban smoking in all public and private workplaces.

Bulgaria has always topped the ranking of countries with the highest number of smokers, but, as experts have warned for decades, passive smoking is much more of a serious problem. Several years ago, the Government forced owners of coffeeshops and restaurants to have sections reserved for smokers and non-smokers, but this has failed to lead to any results with smokers and non-smokers often sharing tables just a metre from one another.

A survey released in October among 2200 high school students in Sofia found that 60 per cent smoked. The survey, done by MBMD polling agency at the request of the Sofia city hall, found that most students started smoking at the age of 16.

On October 27 2008, Croatia enforced a ban on smoking in public institutions and workplaces with a six-month grace period for restaurants and bars to comply. Breaking the law will carry huge fines, up to 21 000 euro for proprietors of places where the ban is broken. Individuals who light up where smoking is forbidden will also face large fines.

On November 8 2008, Greek parliament approved a ban on smoking in public places, including all restaurants, bars and public transport, from January 1 2010. Greece provided for a 300 euro fine for lighting up in an area where smoking is forbidden.

In Bulgaria's case the amount of the fine has not yet been stipulated.

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