Spain Adopts the Toughest Anti-Smoking Ban in Europe

Spanish smokers will be prohibited to light up in cafes, bars and restaurants, because the new legislation bans smoking in all enclosed public spaces.

Spain Adopts the Toughest Anti-Smoking Ban

It will also be unlawful to smoke in kid’s playgrounds on schools and hospital territory, in accordance with the law which got its final approval from parliament on December 21.

Spain already had and anti-smoking law, which was adopted in January 2006, but it is not so restrictive than other European countries, which prohibits smoking in the workplaces, public transport and shops.

It permitted bar and restaurant owners to decide whether to allow smoking or not. The majority of businesses faced a reduction in profit, and decided to permit their clients to light up.

These new measures take effect approximately seven years after Ireland became the first European country to ban smoking in public places, a move that initiated a chain reaction across Europe in favor of smoke-free restaurants and bars.

Spanish law has many opponents. According to Jose Luis Guerra, vice president of the Spanish Hotel and Catering Association (FEHR), the government has adopted an absolute prohibition disregarding figures that were presented, or without any study in this field.

“Bars and restaurants have been significantly affected by the economic crisis, experiencing 31 months of falling-off in sales. I suppose that this ban can lead to a further 5% decrease in sales in restaurants, about 10% in bars and 15% in night clubs, while the country is trying to emerge from economic and financial crisis” he said.

His association tabled a proposal to create a system similar to that in France, where separate smoking sections with ventilators are allowed.

“This is one of the most drastic anti-smoking laws in the world. It is even severe than in Ireland, as there it is permitted to smoke outdoors. It wants to turn those who smoke in bars into secondary citizens, and will fail because t will lead to huge economic damages, both for smokers and non-smokers,” stated, Dominic Brisby, the representative of Spanish tobacco company Altadis.

Health Minister Leire Pajin has called the law as “an important step in the protection of the health of the Spanish people.”

“I think that this ban could on the contrary lead to a boom for bars and restaurants as it would encourage many non-smokers to go out more, as before they didn’t have such an opportunity. But we should understand that would require changes, which need time, because habits can’t be changed in a day,” she said.

“It will for sure affect us financially. But after a few months people will be used to it, as they did it in England and Italy,” said Alfonso Castro, owner of a restaurant.

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