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Latino Daily News

Monday January 3, 2011

Smoking Ban in Spain: Bars Obey, Hospitals Don’t

Since midnight yesterday, Spain became a smoke free country by law. In general terms, bars and restaurants succeeded in getting the smokers outdoors, but pretty much every other place where smokers convene saw the new rule get implemented with little success, and much opposition.

Good weather in Spain allowed for bars and restaurants to offer smoking patrons outdoor alternatives (like balconies and terraces) when enforcing the mandate.  In colder cities like Navarra, pub owners offered blankets and heaters to smokers that didn’t offer much resistance when after midnight they were pointed to signs and banners that read ‘Please Help us obey the Law.’

A sharp contrast to out door parks and hospitals, where smokers were oblivious to the fact that they were breaking the law, some even becoming a bit hostile when reminded that by law, there’s no smoking allowed in front of healthcare facilities.

“Where do they want us to stand, in a different neighborhood? You come here, have to spend the whole day with your ill relatives and now they expect you to go on a excursion to smoke a cigarette?” said Salud Martínez, a woman visiting an ill relative at La Fe Hospital in Valencia.

“It’s so absurd, I can purchase the cigarettes inside the establishment, but to enjoy them, I have to leave the establishment” said Raúl Martos, another Spaniard upset with the law.

Fears by bars and restaurants that the new law would mar their regular clientele flow proved to be unfounded since the smoke inside establishments vanished, but not for a second the ambiance, and festive nightlife atmosphere.

The only thing several businesses lament, was the audacity of a few, who went on a smoke break and never came back to close their tab.