A demonstration by smokers against Bulgaria’s ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces such as restaurants, bars and workplaces, that came into effect at the beginning of June 2012, was scheduled to be held on June 10 at 6pm.
The protests, organised through a group on social network Facebook, were expected to include owners of restaurants, cafes and nightclubs, who say that the smoking ban will hit their businesses hard.
Organisers said that the protests would be held in various parts of the country. In capital city Sofia, the rallying point is at the foot of the three large pylons outside the National Palace of Culture, NDK.
Organisers of the demonstration said that after a similar ban was introduced in Spain, 30 000 jobs were lost and many companies went bankrupt.
Spain legislated anti-smoking restrictions in 2006 and with effect from January 1 2012, introduced a tougher set of bans, among the strictest in Europe. The ban that took effect this year outlaws smoking in all bars and restaurants, on television broadcasts, near hospitals and in school playgrounds.
In Bulgaria, from June 1 2012, smoking is banned in all enclosed public spaces, at the workplace and at several outdoor public places – pavements next to nurseries, kindergartens, schools, student dormitories and places providing social services for children, playgrounds, in places where organised activities for children are held, sports facilities, summer theatres, cinemas and at sports events.
Smoking is still permitted at home, in the car, in the street if not next to a kindergarten or school, at open areas of restaurants and places of entertainment, at separate enclosed smoking rooms at airports, on the outside terraces of offices, hotels, restaurants and on the beach.
However, separate internal smoking areas at work places, hotels and restaurants are no longer legal. Smoking at private parties in public places such as restaurants also is illegal, as is smoking at private clubs.
(Photo: mi sio/sxc.hu)