Spain's smoking law could get stricter

2nd February 2006, Comments 0 comments

2 February 2006, MADRID – Health minister Elena Salgado has threatened to toughen up Spain's new anti-smoking law.

2 February 2006

MADRID – Health minister Elena Salgado has threatened to toughen up Spain's new anti-smoking law.

Salgado told the Antena 3 programme 'Rueda Iberico' she would "take a step further" in the law if more bars and restaurants of 100 sq metres didn't choose to be non-smoking.

Under the current law, which became effective from 1 January, venues over 100 sqm must have a non-smoking area and air-conditioning within seven months, but small venues can choose whether they want to be smoking or non-smoking. They then display a sign at the door.

The result so far is that more than 90 percent of these venues have decided to be smoking because they don't want to drive away customers. In some cases, the bars and restaurants started off choosing the non-smoking option but changed their minds when they saw some customers had stopped visiting.

She said that if "in a reasonable time limit of a year" the majority of bars continue to be smoking, while the majority of Spaniards are non-smoking, she will change the law.

She said she had originally decided to be "more flexible" with smaller venues "with the idea that having a larger percentage of non-smokers, there would be restaurants of less than 100 sqm that would decide to be non-smoking spaces".

"That's happening in a slower way [than thought]," she said.

The minister also insisted it was not her place to intervene in the tobacco war which has begun between rival cigarette companies in Spain. This week the Spanish-French firm Altadis decided to lower the price of its main cigarette labels by between 50 and 65 cents a pack.

The move was in response to the cut last week by the firm Philip Morris which left Malboro cheaper than Fortuna.

The price cuts mean government tax hikes introduced to discourage smoking are being felt less by smokers. The price of Altadis brands Fortuna, Nobel and Ducados stood at EUR 2.50 last week, but on Thursday, Fortuna and Nobel cost EUR 1.85 and Ducados EUR 2.

Marlboro cost EUR 2.35, down from EUR 2.75.

Tobacconists are complaining that the price changes mean they are being forced to sell cigarettes at a loss, for lower than the price at which they bought the cigarettes.

Salgado said she was sure she could count on the economy department "to put the breaks on this situation".

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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