Cigarette sales fall after anti-smoking law starts

1st March 2006, Comments 0 comments

1 March 2006, MADRID — Cigarette sales drop in the wake of the start of an anti-smoking law in the New Year.

1 March 2006

MADRID — Cigarette sales drop in the wake of the start of an anti-smoking law in the New Year.

Sales of packs of cigarettes fell by 13.5 million, or 4.22 percent, to some 305.4 million in January from nearly 319 million in the same month a year ago, the Office of the Tobacco Market Commissioner said.

Some 25-30 percent of Spain's approximately 44 million people smoke and about 56,000 people die each year from smoking-related illnesses, according to official figures.

The controversy over the anti-smoking law gained new life last month when the government said it was looking at "taking a further step" in addressing smoking in smaller restaurants.

The law prohibits smoking at work and in those bars and restaurants larger than 100 square metres (1,075 square feet) that do not have a smoking section, although it gave proprietors eight months to set up specially designated portions of their establishments.

Under the law, owners of establishments of less than 100 square meters can decide whether or not to offer a non-smoking.

In reality, most bars and restaurants are smaller than 100 square metres and the vast majority have opted to allow smoking, scared their clients may desert them.

The Spanish government approved new taxes on tobacco 10 February to discourage smoking and reduce the effect of the price cuts implemented by tobacco companies during the first few weeks of the year.

Cigar sales have fallen more drastically than cigarette sales in the wake of the anti-smoking law, plunging 37 percent in January, compared to the same month last year, according to the latest figures released on Tuesday.

Some 40.5 million cigars were sold in Spain last month, down from the 64.5 million sold in January 2005.

The law established a three-year period during which tobacco sponsorship of and advertising at sports events - particularly car racing - must end, including the placement of tobacco logos on racers' clothing and vehicles.

The anti-smoking law restricts sales of smoking products to tobacco shops or cigarette vending machines, and use of the machines will be prohibited for people under the age of 18.

Lighting-up is now also forbidden at cultural centres, museums and libraries, as well as in taxis, ambulances, public urban and inter-urban transportation, airlines, railroads and public maritime transport - except on deck.

Individuals and businesses not complying with the law face fines ranging from EUR 360 to as much as EUR 720,000, depending on whether the infraction was slight or "very serious".

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

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

0 Comments To This Article