Smoking will be banned in all indoor public areas in Bulgaria as of June 1, 2010, parliament announced Friday, after voting changes to the country's health law.
The ban, which has divided parliament into smokers and non-smokers, also caused an uproar among restaurant and cafe owners, who said it would ruin their business.
AdvertisementIn 2005, the country, home to some of the heaviest smokers in Europe, already imposed a ban on smoking in all public administration buildings, as well as on public transport and trains.
Restaurant and cafe owners were then forced to provide separate non-smoking tables to clients, which remained largely unoccupied.
But with the new changes banning all smoking in public places, some lawmakers have called for restaurants, cafes and bars that would cater only to smokers.
A recent study by the National Centre for Public Health Protection showed that 52.4 percent of all men and 38.1 percent of all women in Bulgaria smoke on a regular basis.