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April 13, 2021

CCR decided: anti-smoking law is constitutional. It will soon be promulgated by President Iohannis, himself a former smoker who successfully kicked this habit

The anti-smoking law is constitutional. The decision was announced on Wednesday by the Constitutional Court, after having discussed the complaint filed by 33 Senators, who claimed that, by defining enclosed public space, the law introduced a form of discrimination.

Moreover, the law would be presented to Klaus Iohannis for promulgation, and afterwards, it will be published in Monitorul Oficial. The law will enter into force 45 days after being published in MO.

Sources within the Presidential Administration had declared by the end of last year that the Head of the State would promulgate the law that would prohibit smoking in most enclosed public locations, such as clubs and restaurants. According to these sources, Iohannis declared he fully agreed with this law, as it is a well-known fact that, although he had smoked for many years, he harshly opposes this vice now. As he writes in his first book, “Step by Step”, Iohannis had smoked up to two packs of cigarettes daily in his youth, yet, now, he is unable to stand cigarette smoke at all. “My collaborators accept this thing as a non-negotiable rule”, Iohannis wrote in his first book.

Augustin Zegrean: “The Law enters in force 45 days after its publishing in the Official Gazette”

Constitutional Court President Augustin Zegrean answered reporters who asked him whether he has brought his cigarettes at the Court on Wednesday, before the debate on the constitutionality of the smoking ban law. He said that he brought cigarettes to debate on smoking ban law.

“The Law enters in force 45 days after its publishing in the Official Gazette. I will quit smoking in public spaces when the law enters into force. Actually, I don’t think you ever saw me smoking in public,” Zegrean asserted. He added that as far as he knows, two of his fellow magistrates of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) are also smokers. “How would I know what they do privately?” he said about the others.

“The right to smoke is not enshrined in the Constitution,” he explained, before the Court’s debate.
Zegrean also rhetorically asked whether smoking inmates are on a par with free ones: “Are they in the same category? The issue is destination [a term used in the controversial law – editor’s note]. Are the free in the same situation as those behind the bars?”.

Appealed by 33 Senators

33 Senators submitted on December 21, at the Constitutional Court, the appeal on the law that banned smoking in all enclosed public spaces, adopted on December 15 by the Chamber of Deputies as a decision-reaching forum. They declared that the reason for notifying the Constitutional Court “did not aim banning smoking in public spaces but, rather, the definition of ‘enclosed public space’”.

In the document forwarded to the Constitutional Court, it is mentioned that, by defining ‘enclosed public location’ as any space destined for collective use, regardless of the form of property, the law introduced a form of discrimination.
The initiators of the notification also pointed out in the quoted document that, by applying the anti-smoking law, a discrimination was created between persons kept in detention in high security prisons and the ones passing through an airport, all of them allowed to smoke in an enclosed public space, and the rest of the smokers. According to political sources, the appeal on the law that forbade smoking, submitted at the Constitutional Court, was signed by Senators of all political parties, including Cristiana Anghel (ALDE), Corneliu Dobritoiu (PNL), Lucian Sova (PSD), Verestoy Attila (UDMR) and independent Senator Alfred Laurentiu Mihai.

Smoking, banned in public locations in 17 of the 28 EU states

According to the law adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, smoking is forbidden in “any space accessible to an audience or destined for collective use, regardless of the form of property or the right to access, which has a roof, a ceiling or a cover and which is delimitated by at least two walls, regardless of their nature or of the temporary or permanent character.

Also, the anti-smoking law prohibits smoking in work spaces and in any playground for children, regardless of whether it is indoors or outdoors.

The prohibition is also applied to public transportation means, healthcare and education units, as well as the ones destined for child protection and assistance, both state-owned and private.

Exceptions are represented by convicts’ cells in maximum security prisons. Moreover, smoking is allowed in specially equipped rooms, located exclusively in the transit area of international airports, under the following conditions: they should not be passage areas or areas of access to enclosed public locations, they should be equipped with functional ventilation systems that would grant the elimination of tobacco smoke with negative pressure, they should be equipped with ash trays and fire extinguishers, and arranged according to the stipulations of applicable laws on fire prevention and extinction, and to be marked on visible areas with signs such as “Smoking room” or “Smoking area”.

The law also forbids selling tobacco-based products in healthcare and education units, state-owned or private, or the sale of unpacked cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos.

Violating the stipulations of the anti-smoking law by physical persons would be sanctioned with a fine ranging from RON 100 to 500.
Violating the stipulations of the anti-smoking law by juridical persons would be sanctioned with a fine of RON 5,000 at the first misdemeanour, a fine of RON 10,000 and the additional sanction of suspending the activity of the company until the situation that has caused his suspension of activity is solved, for the second misdemeanour.

Committing a new misdemeanour to the stipulations of the anti-smoking law would be sanctioned with a fine of RON 15,000 and an additional fine of closing the unit.

At this time, 17 of the 28 states of the European Union have a full ban on smoking in enclosed public location, public transportation means and work places.

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