Spain’s smokers have a New Year’s resolution: quit lighting up. And they didn’t have much of a choice in the matter- Spain’s nationwide smoking ban forced them to put out their butts in public areas. NY1 News explains where the smoke was cleared.
“Spain says ‘adios’ to smoking in most indoor public places. The country introduced a tough anti-smoking law today that prohibits lighting up in bars, restaurants, casinos and airports. Children's outdoor playgrounds and areas around hospitals and schools are also off limits to smokers.”
Spain is known for its quintessential cafe culture. But owners might stop serving the “tapas” and “cervezas” if there are no customers to stick around for another smoke. CNN visited Madrid to catch the reaction of cafe owners and their regulars.
REPORTER: “Spain's hotel and restaurant federation warns of a 10 percent drop in business and tens of thousands of job losses, in the midst of the nation's deep economic crisis... But the government says similar laws else where in Europe did not hurt business in the long run.
OWNER: “Spaniards spend a lot of time in bars, and will probably spend less time now. Instead of drinking three or four beers, they'll have one.”
As CNN hinted, the situation is a catch-22, the Spanish government is already facing a recession and this ban threatens to take a bite out of the millions of Euros provided by taxes on smoking. An effected owner told the Telegraph, it’s poorly timed.
“It’s hard enough already with the economic crisis keeping people from coming in and spending money like they used to. It’s part of Spanish culture to light up with a coffee or a beer and now is not the right time to meddle with that.”
But the Spanish government isn’t worried about “dinero” when it’s estimated some 160 Spaniards die every day from smoking-related illnesses. BBC says over the years Spain tried to pass prior bans, but this time it’s taking the law seriously.
“The law tightens anti-smoking restrictions introduced in 2006. The anti-smoking rules... outlawed smoking in the workplace, but it let bar and restaurant owners choose whether or not to allow it. Most chose not to impose any ban.”
Spain’s Health Minister Leire Pajin agrees the country’s excessive smoking has been one long drag on the public’s health. She says a smoke-free bar will drive more business than ever.
“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."
Spain boasts 500 years of tobacco production and is the EU's fourth largest tobacco producer.