Spain has introduced one of Europe’s toughest smoking bans effective from 2nd Jan 2011.
A “smoking prohibited” sign in Madrid
Fines for breaking the ban, which took effect at midnight on January 2, range from a modest £25 (30 euros) to £513,800 (600,000 euros). As well as playgrounds and access points to schools and hospitals, smoking is also banned in bars, restaurants, discos, casinos and airports. Although hotels are allowed to reserve 30% of their rooms for smokers.
Spain’s Health Minister Leire Pajin previously said: “We should remember that more than 70% of Spain’s population are non-smokers. “So it is logical to think they will be more comfortable in bars when there is no tobacco smoke in them.”
Smoking cigarette in an ashtray on a restaurant bar on October 21, 2010, in Madrid
Fears are mounting that the ban at bars will cost jobs. The Spanish Federation of Hostelry estimates the ban could lead to the loss of up to 350,000 jobs, it is considered that many Spaniards will stay at home rather than go without a cigarette at bars.
At the same time the Spanish government, struggling to pay off a huge deficit during an economic slowdown, seems to be hoping that the ban will not stop too many Spaniards from smoking. Last month, it announced a rise in tobacco tax which it hopes will bring in an extra £668m (780 million euros) a year.
This new law updates legislation introduced five years ago where smoking was banned from the workplace and small bar owners could decide whether to allow smoking, depending on the size of their premises. Most of these bar owners chose to permit smoking and the legislation was deemed a failure. Larger bars and restaurants on the other hand had to have a designated smoking area.
Similar legislation in Ireland has proven to have had a limited economic effect.
By 2012, all of the EU’s 27 member states should have banned smoking in enclosed zones.