Bulgaria’s restaurants invest in keeping smokers outdoors warm in winter

Smoking Cigarette

The tough smoking ban in enclosed public places that became operational in Bulgaria in June 2012 is creating a new view as winter gradually encloses its chilly grip – smokers, bundled up warm clothing, still smoking outdoors being at restaurants and bars.

In Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, while many locations of leisure have removed their outside seating for the winter, many have not in order to take care of smoking clients.

At one restaurant in the centre of Sofia visited by The Sofia Globe the owners of the restaurant have set up special heating pieces under wooden tables to hold smokers’ legs warm. There as well are outdoor gas heaters.

One press review said that owners of restaurants, bars and cafes had spent 300 000 leva (about 150 000 euro) in heaters in order that people could smoke outdoors. Some restaurants as well are offering smokers covers at outdoor seating.

From the time the law became operational until mid-November, health inspectors had given more than 400 citations for violation of the smoking ban, including more than 50 000 leva in fines.

Authorities said that sometimes health inspectors saw the smoking ban is being broken at a restaurant or bar, but when they entered ashtrays have been taken away. That is why, concern is being given to extending to police the right to fine breakers of the smoking ban.

The restaurant business in Sofia states that more than 200 people in the city became unemployed due to decreased revenue that restaurants and bars assign to the impact of the indoor smoking ban. Restaurants as well make a complaint that the ban is the cause of their reduced income as a result of the cost of installing equipment to people who use tobacco.

On November 15, as Bulgaria joined in marking the world No Tobacco Day, official data said that more than 300 000 people in Bulgaria have significant lung diseases. Bulgaria is fourth in Europe in the number of smoking people.

Marking No Tobacco Day, Sofia’s health inspectorate said that those who quitted smoking would live three to six years longer than those who did not gave up the habit.

The Ministry of Health’s chief health inspector, Dr Angel Kunchev, said that the good results of the smoking ban in indoor public places would be seen in the long- rather than the short-term. He said that he estimated the first good effects would be noticeable in next two years because the number of smoking people in Bulgaria decreased.

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