Bulgaria's government is proposing a total ban on smoking from next June in indoor public places, after earlier attempts failed due to strong opposition from restaurant owners.

The ban, which has to be approved by parliament, could also prove unpopular among ordinary Bulgarians, at least 40 percent of whom are believed to smoke.

Bulgaria's smoky restaurants and cafes are at the heart of the social life in this traditional tobacco-growing European Union country of 7.3 million.

Many owners of such establishments fear the new ban will scare away customers and ruin their businesses, already struggling because of the economic slowdown.