Bulgaria will introduce a complete ban on smoking in public areas in cafes and restaurants covering less than 50 square metres (538 sq ft) in mid-2011, the country's health ministry said Tuesday.
The move was agreed during a meeting between prime minister Boiko Borisov, health minister Stefan Konstantinov, Desislava Atanasova, chair of the parliamentary health commission, representatives of the economy ministry, the Bulgarian hotel and restaurant association and the Sofia Association of Hotel Managers.
The decision was immediately opposed by small-size businesses, which stated that the new restriction would produce a wave of bankruptcies. According to the owners, the new regulations cater for the interests of larger operators.
Currently, the decision on whether to adopt the smoking ban in cafes and restaurants spanning less than 50 square metres is up to the owners.
The ban, expected to be introduced in June, will mainly affect small local cafes and pubs that are frequented mostly by smokers.