Bulgaria’s Health Ministry mulling tougher sanctions against breaches of indoor smoking ban

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Health is considering adopting proposals from anti-smoking NGOs for considerably tougher penalties for breaches of the ban on smoking in indoor public spaces such as restaurants and bars, including shutting them down for six months in the event of a second offence.

Bulgaria’s Health Ministry is drafting amendments to existing legislation which took effect in June 2013, banning smoking in restaurants, pubs, and other enclosed public spaces, as well as in close proximity to schools and kindergartens as well as in play parks frequented by children.

NGOs have proposed that the ministry take on board proposals to shut down, in the event of a second offence, places of entertainment for six months – and to legislate the posting of signs explaining why the shut-down has been ordered.

The NGOs base their proposals on the fact that, since the ban came into force, numerous places have been fined on numerous occasions, but persist in allowing smoking on their premises.

Up for discussion in the envisaged legislation is a proposal that the manager of a place of entertainment that breaks the smoking ban would be subject to a fine. This would address the current situation whereby the legal entity that owns the place of entertainment is fined.

The draft legislation may also widen the number of institutions able to impose fines, beyond the current situation, where only regional health inspectorates can order sanctions. The institutions that could also be empowered to issue sanctions, by future legislation, including the Food Safety Agency, Interior Ministry and Labour Inspectorate.

The draft legislation will also address the use of hookahs, currently permitted to be smoked indoors, including by under-18s. In summer 2017, there was talk of legislation against indoor smoking of hookahs by minors, but nothing has happened since then.

(Photo: Gail Rau/freeimages.com)




The Sofia Globe staff

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