77pc of Spaniards support tough smoking ban

16th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

16 December 2005, MADRID — An opinion polls found 77 percent of Spaniards supported a new law which will impose a tough ban on smoking.

16 December 2005

MADRID — An opinion polls found 77 percent of Spaniards supported a new law which will impose a tough ban on smoking.

The poll was carried out by the Centre for Sociological Investigations on the day after Spain passed the anti-smoking legislation.

The law will forbid lighting up not only in bars and restaurants but also in workplaces in a nation where nearly one in three people are smokers.

From 1 January, it will be prohibited to smoke at work and in those bars and restaurants larger than 100 square meters (1,075 square feet) that do not have a smoking section, although proprietors will have eight months to establish such specially designated portions of their establishments.

The law has brought criticism from portions of the beverage, dining and hotel industries, which fear a sharp decline in their numbers of customers.

There will be a three-year period within which tobacco sponsorship of and advertising at sports events - particularly automobile racing - must end, including the placement of tobacco logos on motor racing clothing and vehicles.

Many smokers feel the law discriminates against them.

But Spanish health minister Elena Salgado said the legislation "helps everybody and doesn't go against anyone".

Salgado said that the new rule is a "fundamental advance" in the defense of public health, adding that each year in Spain more than 50,000 people die from tobacco-related diseases.

The figure represents 16 percent of the annual deaths of persons older than 35 and is more than the number of people who die from AIDS, alcohol and workplace and traffic accidents combined.

In addition, tobacco use is the main cause of illness and disability in Spain and the consumption of tobacco is linked to more than 25 diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular ailments.

In acknowledgment of that, the new legislation - which regulates the sale, supply, consumption and advertising of tobacco products but does not include any provision for financing stop-smoking treatments - says in its preamble that tobacco use in Spain is the primary single cause of death.

The Spanish health ministry hopes within the next two years to reduce the number of smokers by 5 percent from its current level of almost 30 percent.

In comparison, 18.5 percent of adult Americans and 36 percent of adult Chinese smoke.

Within two weeks, smokers in Spain will only be able to buy smoking products at tobacco shops or cigarette vending machines, and their use will be prohibited to persons under 18 years of age.

Because of these restrictions, after 1 January tobacco will be available for sale at only one half the locations where it was sold prior to the law's entry into effect.

But smokers will find it will be prohibited to light-up at work, in health clinics, lecture halls, educational institutions and government offices, as well as enclosed sports venues and sites where public events are held.

Smoking will also be forbidden at cultural centres, museums and libraries, and in taxis and ambulances, as well as on public urban and inter-urban transportation, airlines, trains and public maritime transport - except on deck.

Persons and businesses not complying with the law will face fines of from EUR 300 to as much as EUR 600,000, depending on whether the infraction was slight or "very serious".

Spain was the first European country to discover tobacco when its early explorers first came to the Americas, after which tobacco use began almost immediately in the homeland.

Currently, Spain grows more than 42,000 tons of tobacco annually, which makes it the European Union's third-largest producer, after Greece and Italy.

Some 20,000 Spanish families make their livelihoods from tobacco farming.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news


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