Starting on Thursday, smokers will no longer be able to light their cigarettes in restaurants, pubs, clubs and any other indoor public areas. This is what the anti-smoking law set to come into force on March 17 says.
On this occasion, several owners of clubs located in Bucharest’s Old Centre, but also in other cities in the country, organized “last cigarette” events, a farewell to the freedom to smoke in indoor public areas.
Despite the dissatisfaction with the new provisions, with the law being considered discriminatory and its future amendment being expected in order to make it more lenient, most people – even smokers – declare themselves thrilled with the fact that smoking will no longer be possible in indoor areas.
Still, the law filed by MP Aurelia Cristea (PSD) has problems, problems exploited by those who are criticizing it. PSD President Liviu Dragnea expressed his doubts that the law that bans indoor smoking in public areas will be applicable to the letter and pointed out that it is too restrictive.
“The law is far too harsh and no measure as harsh as this is usually respected,” PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated, according to Mediafax.
The PSD leader referred to attempts to circumvent the law by transforming public establishments into private clubs, and to the law’s possible negative economic consequences. Dragnea also pointed out that smokers should be able to smoke in civilized conditions and did not rule out the possibility that the law may be amended in the following period, admitting that many fellow MPs have already thought about this.
Gov’t prepares information guide
Premier Dacian Ciolos announced on Wednesday that the Government has prepared an information guide that explains the way the antismoking law is to be applied, a guide that can be consulted by institutions and companies interested.
“As I promised, the Government has prepared an information guide that explains the way the law is being applied and which are the procedures for those willing, for the institutions and companies interested. This guide will be available online,” Ciolos pointed out at the start of the Government meeting.
In what concerns smoking within the Victoria Palace, he asked the Government Secretary General to identify a location outside the building where a smoking area will be laid out.
Answering the criticism heard lately, according to which this law cannot be implemented because the Government did not devise enforcement guidelines, Government Spokesperson Dan Suciu stated on Wednesday that the antismoking law does not need enforcement guidelines since the legislative act adopted by Parliament is “pretty clear.”
“The law is pretty clear. We have prepared a guide, an enforcement chart is also on the Government’s website. The contraventions are applied by local police or the Interior Ministry. I hope this guide will be useful and all those who have questions about this law will consult it and let’s hope it will be successfully implemented, because this is the key to what we all want given the fact that we have this legislation,” Dan Suciu stated.
Concerning the way the breaking of this law is to be reported, the Interior Ministry announced that such cases cannot be reported on the 112 emergency number since its role is to handle only emergency calls.
17 of the 28 European Union member states currently ban smoking in indoor public areas, public transportation and at the workplace. According to the law that will be applied in Romania, smoking will not be allowed in “any area open to public access, or any area meant for collective use, irrespective of the form of ownership or access rights, which has a roof or ceiling and at least two walls, irrespective of their nature or their temporary or permanent character.”
Likewise, the anti-smoking law bans smoking at the workplace and at all playgrounds, be they open-air or indoor playgrounds.
The ban also covers public transportation, healthcare units, educational units, as well as child protection and childcare units, both public and private. Excepted are prison cells in high-security penitentiaries.
At the same time, smoking is allowed in special rooms, exclusively in the transit areas of international airports, provided the following conditions are met: it should not be an area of transit or access to indoor public areas, should have ventilation systems that would ensure the elimination of smoke, should have ashtrays and fire extinguishers, should be laid out in line with fire safety norms, and should be visibly marked with signs reading “smoking room” or “smoking area.”
The law also bans the sale of tobacco products in public and private healthcare and educational units, as well as the retail sale of cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos.
Fines will range from RON 100 to RON 500 in the case of physical persons, and from RON 5,000 on the first offence to RON 10,000 and suspension of activity on the second offence for juridical persons. A third offence would result in a fine of RON 15,000 and the shutting down of the establishment.