Sixty-one per cent of Bulgarians polled in January 2013 approve of the full ban on smoking in public places such as restaurants and bars that came into effect in June 2012, the National Centre for the Study of Public Opinion said.
The ban has been the subject of attempts to get Parliament to agree to water it down by reverting to the pre-June 2012 version, which allowed separate smoking areas in hotels, restaurants and pubs. Bulgaria’s ruling party and health authorities have stood firm against these attempts, which have been defeated in committees. The amendments are to be tabled in Parliament’s plenary hall before mid-2013 parliamentary elections, and defeat appears certain.
A public protest in Sofia at the end of January, organised by a recently-founded party which has overturning the smoking ban as the main plank in its platform, attracted far fewer supporters than organisers said they expected.
According to the poll, women, people older than 59 (76 per cent of them), people with higher education, wealthy people and people living in villages support the ban more frequently.
Men, people aged between 40 and 49 and residents of smaller towns oppose the ban more frequently.
A high approval rate was registered among people who have never smoked (86 per cent) and among ex-smokers (75 per cent). Even smokers did not oppose the ban unanimously – two thirds of them reject it, while a third support it, local news agency Focus said.
Fifty-eight per cent of the respondents were non-smokers – people who have never smoked and people who have stopped smoking. Three per cent of respondents said that they had stopped smoking after the ban was introduced in enclosed public places. These figures were the same as those in a December 2012 poll.
According to the January opinion poll, 42 per cent of respondents said that they were smokers. Men, people under 49 years of age, respondents with secondary education and those living in Sofia, and people with average and lower incomes smoke more frequently.
According to the poll, the approval of the ban among the supporters of all major political parties is higher than disapproval. Among the supporters of the ruling party, the centre-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) the figure is 64 per cent, among supporters of the Bulgarian Socialist Party 72 per cent, among supporters of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms 62 per cent.
The pollsters concluded that the smoking ban in enclosed public places could not be used directly for party and election goals, because there is no link between respondents’ personal preferences and their political affiliation.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)