BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania extended a smoking ban on Tuesday to include bars & playgrounds, becoming the latest European Union state to strengthen anti-smoking controls.
Prior to the bill, which has been under consideration since 2011, smoking had been banned in state institutions, schools & hospitals, yet bars did not have to be smoke-free.
The country, where roughly a third of the population smokes, joins another 17 EU states that have enforced wide-ranging smoke-free legislation, including neighbours Bulgaria & Hungary.
Marking the final stage of the process, parliament's lower house approved the ban on smoking in playgrounds as well as all indoor public spaces, including bars, restaurants & workplaces. The legislation moreover said the public should be educated approximately the dangers of smoking.
Some critics of the bill have said it will put an end to the country's vibrant night life, especially in the capital Bucharest where late closing hours & the freedom to smoke indoors fill venues to the brim.
The ban could moreover lead to a drop in cigarette sales, a large source of revenue for Romania, which raised 8.3 billion lei ($2 billion) from excise duties on tobacco & cigarettes in 2014, finance ministry data showed.
Prior smoking bans have been loosely enforced. In parliament, a public institution where smoking has been banned for years, it is usual to see lawmakers, staff & reporters lighting up.
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Lisa Barrington)