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On 1 June 2012, a revised law went into effect in Bulgaria that bans smoking in all enclosed public spaces. This is a considerable achievement given that a complete smoking ban was originally passed in 2009, only to be repealed in 2010 due to tobacco industry interests within the incumbent government.

The Union has been working with The Bulgarian National Tobacco Control Coalition for more than a year to get the law reintroduced. In March 2011, following the repeal, The Union hosted an MPOWER course in Moscow, which was attended by officials from the Bulgarian Ministry of Health and associated Bulgarian NGOs. The MPOWER course provided an overview of key policy measures proven to reduce tobacco use — and also provided an opportunity for the Bulgarian delegation to develop an action plan for reinstating the smoking ban. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Bulgaria, a member of the coalition, subsequently received Bloomberg Initiative funding, managed by The Union, to help achieve the ban.

Under the new law, smoking is prohibited in all workplaces, restaurants, bars, bus stations and other public buildings. The sole exception is airports, which will be smokefree, but will allow enclosed smoking rooms. The law was passed 107 votes to 90 after considerable debate.

The new law means that the country's 7.5 million people can look forward to being protected from the dangers of second hand-smoke. Currently 38.8 % of Bulgarians are smokers; 21.7% of all male deaths are due to tobacco use; and 69.3% of young people (aged 13-15) are exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes. In addition to protecting the public from the dangers of second-hand smoke, smokefree legislation has been proven to help smokers quit and to encourage families to make their homes smokefree.

Because of the speed of adoption, The Union is now supporting the Bulgarian National Tobacco Control Coalition to sensitise the public regarding the ban and ensure compliance in face of weak political will for enforcement.

 

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The Tobacco Control Department is based at The Union Europe Office, Edinburgh, registered charity no. SC039880
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