The Cyprus parliament voted by a large majority on Thursday to make the Mediterranean holiday island the latest EU country to ban smoking in bars, restaurants, nightclubs and workplaces.
The bill, which tightens up existing legislation that has gone largely unenforced, was carried by 27 votes to three in the 56-seat parliament with one abstention.
AdvertisementThe sweeping changes come into effect from January 1, 2010 so as to give establishments, and smokers, time to adjust, although amendments can be made to the law before it becomes active.
Smoking will be allowed only in outside open areas such as courtyards or street cafes, while employers will be required to provide a closed smoking area for employees dying for a puff.
Those who break the new law face a maximum 2,000 euro fine.
Bar and club owners say they will challenge the legislation in the courts as they expect business to suffer from the blanket ban.
The legislation tightens up a 2002 ban on smoking in public places which was not strictly enforced.
The new law also does away with having designated smoking and non-smoking areas in the same establishment.
Opinion polls indicate that a majority of Cypriots welcome the smoke free regime which falls in line with the European Union's bid to ban smoking in enclosed public places across the 27-member bloc by 2012.
Cyprus has a lower rate of smoking than the European Union average. Some 29 percent of the population describe themselves as regular smokers, compared with an EU average of 31 percent. But Cyprus has one of the highest proportions of non-smokers subjected to passive smoke in public places.
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