Bulgaria Bans Public Smoking: Too Good To Be True?

May 21, 2009 5 Comments by

Happy End Dance

A full public places smoking ban comes into force on June 1st 2010. Yes, this is the best news I’ve heard for ages.

You can be sure of my position on this. No smell of stale smoke here.

And I will make my point and promotion right now on my support for this ban… All  apartment owners advertising here on Bansko Blog have specified the “no smoking” condition. That’s why they all smell fresh and clean when you arrive. Take a look here: https://banskoblog.com/bansko-accommodation/.

For the health of bar and restaurant workers, and for the health of residents, the full public smoking ban in all restaurants, pubs, clubs, cafes and bars will be enforced as no smoking places – officially as of June 1 2010.  The final Cabinet decision, was approved in a second reading on Thursday, May 21 as part of projected amendments to health legislation.

I’ll look at the success of the UK and Ireland ban and, apart from the negative impact on business for some pubs, there’s no doubt that restaurants, pubs and cafes are more pleasant places to visit.

But is this no smoking news too good to be true?

I ask this quaestion because the respect for law in Bulgaria could probably not be measured. As its so small.

Widespread corruption from Police to the courts means that there may just be a few problems in enforcing this ban. A ban where the smoking per head is the second highest in the world.

Smoking Olympics: And The Winner Is…?

A country where, if smoking was an Olympic sport, it would be gold medals every time to Bulgaria. A country where for some its normal to eat food in alternate turn with a drag on the permanently lit cigarette.

I have been to meeting where over  20 cigarettes have been consumed in an hour and a half. It really can be bad – although forward looking restaurants, such as The Victoria, have had no smoking sections for some time. And surprisingly they have been enforced nad popular with a growing number of both smoking, and non smoking, Bulgarians.

The Politics Of Smoking

The official announcement as per Sofia Echo said:

“The Cabinet rejected the proposal of the Turkish led Movement of Rights and Freedom (MRF), Ramadan Atalai, who suggested that the ban should be enacted as early as June 1 2009.

As part of the amendments, a special inspectorate task force will be established, under the medical inspection branch, which will be entrusted with ensuring that the ban is properly upheld.

The amendments to the Health Act, passed on second reading today, will be welcomed by a large section of the population, but it will inevitably draw flak from businessmen who fear that the new legislation would spell the end of their livelihoods and contribute to unemployment in Bulgaria, which would be highly undesirable during an economic downturn.

Tourist organisations, hotels and other industry-related enterprises have repeatedly stated that a thorough ban is unhealthy, and that a steady, systematic approach should be implemented first.  “A gradual process rather than a complete ban is a lot more sensitive,” said Blagoi Ragin, president of the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association (BHRA), as quoted by Bulgarian news agency BTA on April 16.

“Prohibition would squeeze the turnover of bars and restaurants by 30 per cent, and many of the smaller establishments will face collapse,” Radin warned, as reported earlier by The Sofia Echo. “Bulgaria should combat smoking but should apply an integrated, comprehensive and reasonable approach instead of going to extremes,” he said.

“Turnovers will slide down by 30-40 per cent; smaller restaurants would be better off closing down straight away,” they said. “It would be far better if employers start paying bonuses to non-smoking workers,” Ragin was quoted as saying by Standart daily.”

What Do You Think?

Will the smoking ban be enforced? I know that for Bansko for a large majority of UK and Irish visitors this ban will be hugely popular. But for Greek, Romanian, Turkish, Macedonian, Serbian, Russian visitors I’m less than sure.

I just wonder if they wil find loopholes, or simple bribery, to get round this ban. The most enterprising loophole in the UK was to set up a smoking only room — and run it for scientific research purposes! All smokers in the smoking room have to fill in a form about their smoking habits: and then smoke away.

One thing is for sure… this smoking ban is too good to be true. Don’t get me wrong I’m delighted – but right now I am as acertain as I can be that only some establishments will enforce this. Having said this, they said the same in Ireland. So hope I’m wrong.


About the author

I enjoy tech, apps, entrepreneurship, podcasting and collaboration with others. I love travelling as well as skiing, hiking, MTB, paragliding, cooking and good food.

5 Responses to “Bulgaria Bans Public Smoking: Too Good To Be True?”

  1. Lance says:

    Are you happy, or sad at the prospect of a smoking ban in Bulgaria?

    Please comment here. Are you a bar owner? What do you think — are you going to invest in outside huts. Or are you just going to wait and see?

  2. Richard says:

    What fantastic news. Mind you, nobody is supposed to smoke in the gondolas but they do. I will no longer smell like an ash tray the next day after a night out in Bansko.
    As a ski resort , people should be used to standing around in the cold outside , so doing this whilst smoking should not be much of an inconvenience to them.

  3. Bas - Serial Expat says:

    Can’t wait to see what happens on June 1 2010 haha.

  4. Chris says:

    So the nanny state hits Bulgaria too! As an non-smoker it’s great to find smoke free pubs, bars and restaurants. The smoke in restaurants is thing that we always notice when we travel to Bulgaria. However, my view is that we ought to cater for the smokers amongst us and there ought to be a choice.

    One thing to bear in mind, you’ll still get the smell of smoke from the chimneys when you venture outside 🙂

  5. Lance says:

    Yes Bas, like you, my general view is that on 1st June 2010 there will be plenty of places still left to smoke….And this should appease those that want a choice of smoking.

    But this all assumes that there is not a sudden change in mindset of the many hardcore Bulgarian smokers by then.

    If I was a betting man, I think we’ll still see plenty of bars with smokers in post smoking ban.

    Hey ho. It will be fun to see. And I hope from the many Bansko enthusiasts on this site, that will be reporting how the ban progresses.

    But in the run up I do hope to be able to hear from restaurant and bar owners who are making plans to implement the ban.

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