TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia will introduce a blanket ban on smoking indoors, after parliament approved a bill proposed in February.

The ban covers smoking in buildings and includes a tough package of fines to ensure that it is followed, prescribing fines of up to 5,000 lari (over USD 2,000).

The bill is an amendment to the Tobacco Control Act was passed at the first hearing and will be brought into force gradually in steps by 2020.

Smoking will be banned in all kinds of buildings except private homes and in the penitentiary system. As previously reported by DFWatch, sport arenas will also become no-smoking areas. Furthermore, people may no longer light up aboard all types of public transport, except taxis and ‘cutters’ (boats); in educational facilities and facilities for children and youth; inside medical and pharmaceutical facilities and elsewhere on their premises.

Although tough fines are to force proprietors to follow the strict rules, the fines for individuals who break the rules are not so tough. The fine for violating the ban on smoking aboard public transport is 50 laris the first time and 100 laris for repeated offenses. Drivers will also be fined if they violate the ban.

The bill will strengthen the rules for restaurants and cafes. Starting from January 1, they must allocate a separate smoking area which is ventilated and may constitute up to 50 percent of the overall space of the facility.

The same rules apply to all other kinds of facility servicing the public, such as parlors, stores and markets, as well as private firms and warehouses. In such places, the smoking section must not exceed 5 percent of overall space.

The bill was prepared by several non-governmental organizations and initiated in the parliament by Guguli Maghradze from Georgian Dream.