Smoke-Free Bulgaria Citizens Initiative
Smoke-Free Life Coalition
7-A Slaveikov Square, Sofia
February 10, 2011
Mr John Dalli
European Health Commissioner
Dear Mr Dalli,
With this open letter we seek to express the support of Bulgarian citizens and civil society organisations for the European Commission’s initiative to impose pan-European regulations on smoking that should lead to a smoke-free Europe by 2012. We would like to extend our gratitude to you for the personal energy and vision that you have invested in this initiative over the past years. As you know, Bulgaria is among the EU member states hardest hit by tobacco smoking and its damaging impact on public and individual health.
We would like to share the growing frustration and disappointment in Bulgarian society with the apparent lack of political willingness to implement this vision in our country. In the spring of 2010 the Bulgarian parliament cancelled the total ban on smoking in covered public places that had to become part of the country’s health legislation from June 1, 2010. Substitute legislation was passed, introducing partial and non-effective measures which maintain, and even liberalize, the status-quo.
Over 100,000 Bulgarian citizens have expressed their support for the complete ban on smoking in 2010. We have delivered their voices to Bulgaria’s political leaders and the mass media by an intensive voluntary campaign during 2010. We have demanded responsible and pro-European leadership and a commitment from the state to implement its own laws in favour of citizens’ health and well-being.
Unfortunately up to date the officials have turned a blind eye onto our demands. Contrary to Bulgaria’s European and global commitments, we have witnessed ongoing attempts to undermine the smoke-free legislation, and – most recently – structural changes to further weaken the State Health Inspectorates’ ability to control and enforce it.
We call upon you and the Commission of the European Union to send a clear signal to Bulgaria’s government that restoring the complete ban on smoking as soon as possible is timely and necessary. We are convinced, that an EU member state’s government should be able to guarantee a healthy smoke-free environment for its citizens, rather than bow to tobacco trade interests.
for the Smoke-Free Bulgaria Citizens Initiative
|Gergana Geshanova, MD
for the Smoke-Free Life Coalition