Approximately 80% of holidaymakers who visit Bulgaria approve of the country’s full smoking ban in enclosed public spaces, according to a local tourists association.
Chair of the Association of Bulgarian Tour Operators and Travel Agents, Bayko Baykov, expressed his support on Monday for continuing with the full smoking ban.
“It is not true that the turnover of establishments has decreased. What European tourists want is to have holidays in a clean environment and enjoy a clean nature,” Baykov said.
He believed that the 5% increase in holidaymakers seen during the previous winter season in Bulgaria was directly as a result of the smoking ban. The Bulgarian Parliament’s economy committee last week adopted at first reading a proposal for changes to the Health Act aiming to relax the smoking ban in public spaces.
Under the amendments proposed by the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, the smoking ban would remain in force for administrative buildings, offices, kindergartens, schools, hospitals and fast food restaurants, but would be lifted for establishments whose area is under 70 square meters. The owners of these establishments would then be able to choose whether their establishment would be smoke-free or not.
The proposed amendments have been met with widespread public criticism, with 60% of Bulgarians supporting the existing ban, according to polls.
The full smoking ban was first introduced back in June 2012 by the country’s former center-right cabinet.