Bulgaria to reject move to ease total smoking ban

An effort to backtrack on Bulgaria’s total smoking ban in enclosed areas in public places has been unsuccessful in Parliament’s economy committee, several days after a comparable effort was defeated in the health committee.

Smoking ban sign

No Smoking Sign

Being before the economy committee, Health Minister Desislava Atanasova, who has been determined in combating any change of the ban that became operational in June 2012, reported public health causes and said that the effort to remove the ban through legislation on tourism was a breach of the constitutional concepts regulating the adoption of laws.

Atanasova informed the committee that lifting or easing the ban also was rejected by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and President Rossen Plevneliev.

Previously, Plevneliev said that if Parliament accepted legislation easing the ban, he would veto it.

Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister Delyan Dobrev spoke in preference of a more flexible method to easing the ban, stating that while personally he recommended non-smoking areas, Bulgaria’s hotels and restaurants had been affected by the law.

“The Health Minister’s intention is clear – she protects people’s health. I pay attention to businesses,” Dobrev said.

The full smoking ban was not operating and neither was state control of it, said committee chairperson Martin Dimitrov. Those who followed the smoking ban were going bankrupt, he said.

Emil Dimitrov, the ruling party MP who tabled the changes on easing the ban, said that there should not be discrimination. There was no cause to force smokers out into the cold, as the past law included the rights of smokers and non-smokers.

Ramadan Atalay, of the minority Movement for Rights and Freedoms, declined statements that the ban was set against smoking people. He said that no analysis had been presented of how the smoking ban impacted society.

Kornelia Ninova, of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, supporting easing the ban, stated that neither hikes in the excise cigarettes duty nor the full smoking ban in enclosed public areas had lowered smoking level.

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