Spain to extend smoking ban to bars, restaurants next year
Spain will amend its anti-tobacco law to extend a smoking ban to bars, cafes, restaurants and all other enclosed public spaces in the country next year, Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez said Wednesday.
The new rules will exempt hotel rooms and private smoking clubs, as well as prisons and psychiatric hospitals because people in these institutions "do not have the freedom to have private spaces", she told a news conference.
"Smoking will be allowed in terraces, at stadiums, at bullrings, at all open spaces," the minister added.
Under a law that came into effect in the country of some 47 million people in January 2006, smoking was banned in the workplace as well as at shops, schools, hospitals, cultural centres and on public transport.
Spain's Hotel and Catering Federation has opposed further smoking restrictions. It argues sales would fall by seven percent in restaurants and by 10-15 percent in bars and cafes if a full smoking ban comes into effect.
But the government argues that other European nations have already banned smoking at bars, restaurants and other leisure establishments without harming their economy.
It says the ban is necessary because smoking is one of the biggest killers in Spain, with some 50,000 smoking-related deaths annually.
The bill will be debated in parliament later this month.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's socialist government are seven seats short of a majority but the amendment to the anti-tabacco law has the backing of two smaller left-wing parties and it is certain to pass.
© 2010 AFP