Most restaurant guests in Sofia and Plovdiv ‘oppose full smoking ban’

Seventy per cent of those polled in a survey commissioned by a hospitality industry association in Plovdiv said that they opposed the planned full ban on smoking in restaurants, due to take effect in Bulgaria this summer.

Introduction of a full smoking ban would negatively affect hotel, restaurant and catering industry owners, the association said.

Cigarettes in Ashtray

Cigarette butts in an ashtray

Bulgaria brought into effect a law more than five years ago requiring restaurants and pubs to have separate smoking and non-smoking areas. Legislation is making its way through Parliament that will provide for a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces as of June 1 2012.

The survey was done among patrons of restaurants in Sofia and Plovdiv.

According to the poll, done by the Noema agency, 60 per cent of people who visited restaurants in Bulgaria’s two largest cities held that the existing restrictions on smoking were sufficient.

In the two cities, one in 10 said that the current regulations were too strict, a media statement about the poll said.

“The planned changes to the law on smoking and the early entry into force of a total ban would negatively affect our sector,” Dimitar Loukarev, president of the association of owners of places of entertainment in Plovdiv.

“Our association repeatedly has stated our position on this issue. The survey only supports our concerns. We believe that such an important issue can be resolved only through dialogue with government authorities,” said Loukarev, adding that the association intended sending an open letter inviting interested parties to talk.

“So far, no one has responded to our concerns. I hope this time to succeed,” he said.

The survey found that most visitors to establishments knew the laws on smoking. Seventy-five per cent were aware, specifically, of the requirement that smoking rooms should be separated by walls and ventilation.

The statement said that the survey was done through personal interviews with 410 guests, all aged older than 18, dining in various restaurants in Sofia and Plovdiv between February 27 and March 11.

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