The Bulgarian parliament has gone back on its plans to enforce a complete ban on smoking in cafes, bars and restaurants.
Smoking has been banned in Bulgaria in all government buildings, public transport, trains, cinemas, schools and kindergartens since 2005.
The ban had been due to be extended to cafes, bars and restaurants from June 1.
Nevertheless, the ruling right-wing GERB party tabled an amendment that will allow owners of smaller establishments -- of less than 100 square metres -- to choose for themselves.
Restaurants, bars and cafes over that size must have separate smoking and non-smoking sections, with the larger part given over to non-smokers.
Until now, all restaurants, cafes and bars were obliged to have non-smoking tables, but these remained largely unoccupied, particularly in bars.
The GERB party holds the majority in parliament and 83 voted for the amendment and 53 against, with five abstentions.
Opponents slammed the new regulations as populistic.
Newly appointed Health Minister Anna-Maria Borisova was in favour of a smoking ban in all indoor areas.
Bulgaria is home to some of the heaviest smokers in Europe, surpassed only by Greece on the number of smokers per capita, according to different studies.
Recent health ministry data showed that over 45 percent of all Bulgarians are regular smokers.