A recent blurb in BBC Mobile News Europe discusses a new anti-smoking law that has gone into effect in Spain. Given the continuing popularity of smoking in Europe in general, and in Spain in particular, this is no small feat:
The ban - one of the strictest in Europe - outlaws smoking in all bars and restaurants. Smokers will also be prohibited on television broadcasts, near hospitals or in school playgrounds. The law tightens anti-smoking restrictions introduced in 2006.
Spain has a strong cafe culture and the owners of bars and cafes have complained the law will hurt business.
The anti-smoking rules introduced in 2006 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. Only large restaurants and bars were obliged to provide a smoke-free area.
Hotel, restaurant and bar owners have said they could face a 10% drop in trade with the new rules. The industry has already seen a sharp fall in sales due to Spain's economic problems. But doctors argue the new legislation will help smokers give up.
It is interesting that Spanish merchants tried to use the same argument of financial harm caused by such laws that merchants in other jurisdictions have also used to influence public opinion against such smoking bans -- even though such negative financial impacts have generally never come to pass.
I was also amazed to realize that it has already been (or "only been," depending on your outlook) a little over 7 years since New York City passed its own anti-smoking laws back in 2003.