A new bill banning smoking in all common indoor areas is to be finalised over the next fortnight and forwarded to parliament so that it can pass it as soon as possible.
The item is intended to align national legislation with the European Union’s Tobacco Product Directive – which Cyprus should have done by end-July.
The bill prohibits smoking at the workplace, hospitals, schools and children’s playgrounds, as well as in open spaces on these grounds.
The prohibition applies to cigarettes, roll-ups, e-cigarettes and hubble-bubble.
Penalties for violations are to be raised to up to €2,000, while transgressing businesses such as bars and restaurants may be closed for up to four days, with courts having the right to renew the four-day closure.
The bill is designed to close a loophole in the current legislation, where businesses bypassed the ban on indoor smoking by creating ‘open spaces’ where customers can light up.
Explaining the bill’s provisions, DISY MP and chair of the House health committee Costas Constandinou said smoking will not be allowed in such establishments where “there is a continuity between the indoor and outdoor areas.”
For example, if the indoor and outdoor areas of a restaurant or bar are separated by a door, smoking will be prohibited.
Conversely, if an establishment has an open foyer with a canopy that is separate from the rest of the premises, then people can puff up there.
Some MPs meanwhile are considering whether the ban should be extended to open spaces such open-air theatres or football grounds.
Despite the apparent draconian scope of the legislation, Constandinou insisted its aim is to strike a balance between respect for the rights of non-smokers and of smokers.