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Smoking & Spain in 2008

London, United...
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Smoking & Spain in 2008

We recently returned from a 12 day vacation throughout Spain – Madrid, Malaga, Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla – and we were quite shocked by the state of passive smoking throughout the country.

Although the January 2006 law that placed some restrictions on public smoking has provided some protection, many places still openly flout the law without enforcement and other places, like the Atocha Train Station in Madrid actually permit smoking inside the main atrium. It’s also quite funny to see at the beautiful new Madrid-Barajas Airport terminal 4, there is a ‘smokers box’ (which still allows massive amounts of smoke to escape) where smokers are forced to crowd into to enjoy their habit, while looking like lab experiments to those outside.

We attended a family wedding in Madrid and found it deplorable that in the main dining room – a space seating over 300 – many people openly smoked before, during and especially after dinner. This, despite there being about 30 children and infants in the same room – was this the 1950’s?

We all know that smoking is the leading cause of death in the world. It kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Yet despite this and the clear (but weak) trend in much of the western world to protect people from passive smoke, Spain suffers through this tortuous half effort at protection.

Can anyone tell me when Spain plans to plans to ban smoking from all indoor public places, including bars and all places serving food?

My wife and I love the food, wine, art and culture of Spain and would seriously consider moving there once they modernize their smoking laws and enforcement as much as they have modernized their transport systems.

Oviedo, Spain
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1. Re: Smoking & Spain in 2008

From what I understand, the law (at least as pertaining to restuarants) states that they can have smoking and non-smoking sections, so long as the smoking area is separate and enclosed. However--and this is the sketchy part--if a restaurant is under a certain size, they have to pick whether to be smoking or non. And, with the culture of the country, many have opted to go for smoking out of fear of losing clients. I am a non-smoker and completely sympathize with you on this issue, as I am always frustrated when I go into a restaurant/bar that is filled with smoke. Unfortunately, I do not know of any future plans. One look at a pack of cigarettes here (labels covering half the front of the box translate to "smoking can kill") juxtaposed with the amount of smokers tells me not much is in the works.

P.S. So true about the airport smoking boxes!

Malaga, Spain
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2. Re: Smoking & Spain in 2008

Italy:

If a restaurant is less than 100 square meters, it can choose to be a smoking restaurant or a non-smoking restaurant. If it is more than 100 square meters, it has to have a separate non-smoking area. Most restaurants choose to be smoking, if they are under 100 square meters, because they do not want to lose clients. One third of Spaniards smoke.

The government does little to prevent smoking, although they passed the anti-smoking law, which has few teeth and is not enforced properly.

When I go to a restaurant, I choose to eat outside if the weather is good, or take a table by a window, so I can have fresh air.

Few Spanish know about the effects of second hand smoke and the government does not inform them. Several years ago the minister of health was a woman who smoked on TV while she was being interviewed! I hear that she has stopped smoking now.

Yes, Spain is a smoking country. Whenever I go to the airports and see the smoking rooms, I laugh because the smoke is not taken out of the building!

The public health system now is facing a crisis because the first wave of the smokers are reaching their fifties and sixties and getting lung cancer. The hospitals are full of these people. There are not enough beds to accomodate the people dying of lung cancer.

It is very sad. My next door neighbor died two days ago. He was 84 years old and a gentleman. However he would go to a cafeteria with his friends everyday while his wife went shopping for food. In the cafeteria he would smoke with his friends. He started feeling bad a month ago and the doctors told him he had lung cancer. He died two days ago and we went to his funeral. The situation is really sad.

Barcelona, Spain
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3. Re: Smoking & Spain in 2008

As I said many times, it looks there are "two Spains" (or 3, or more...) on everything

These comments about 1/3 of Spaniards smoking, people being not aware of dangers of smoke, authorities not doing anything, law not being enforced... sounds like a parallel universe to me. Is not the Spain I do live in!!!

Here in Barcelona definitely the law is enforced, and even places less than 100sqm can choose, there is plenty of non-smoking options. There ones not compliant are inspected and fined. There is plenty of TV ads from the local government. I now return home from going out every weekend without my clothes smelling of smoke!! (only about a 20 € of my friends do smoke, a rare bunch??). Even the smokers on our group prefer the non-smoking restaurants for dinner, and we very rarely have problems finding smoke-free tablas inside.

By the way, BCN airport is 100% smoke-free, smoking in not allowed anywhere on its premises

Barcelona, Spain
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4. Re: Smoking & Spain in 2008

about a 20 %, not €, of my friends do smoke, of course!! ;-)

madrid
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5. Re: Smoking & Spain in 2008

In theory every region could change the law a bit and make it even more strict, in theory...

in Madrid in practice they have made it softer with smokers, allowing restaurants for celebrations such as weddings to allow smoking even if they are bigger than 100sq m

Most bars are smaller than 100sq m or aorund that surface and have chosen massively ... to allow smoking

Now all the workers go out for a coffee break and smoke, so the ambient in the bars is even worse than before the law. Restaurants in general apply the law and have separated spaces for smokers and non smokers.

The goberment shouldn't have done this law so flexible and directly should have ban smoking in every public space, as italy and ireland have done and i haven't seen riots there, even in italy which is ver similar to spain in many aspects of life.

In my case 80% of my friends don't smoke, may be it's me who seeks non smokers friend :-), and at least in my home i have forbidden to smoke to the rest 20% when they come to visit.

Things change for better to non smoker, slowly, but change.

London, United...
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6. Re: Smoking & Spain in 2008

I appreciate this discussion everyone - it's really important that we, as residents and visitors, can and should discuss what's happening with this important topic.

It's quite clear that we're all better off supporting tougher controls on public tobacco pollution - let's keep the pressure on where we can to help our politicians out when they're not being democratic.

Malaga, Spain
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7. Re: Smoking & Spain in 2008

Belsaita:

Barcelona has always been ahead of its time compared to other big cities in Spain. That is why it is so prosperous, because they accept new ideas way ahead of the rest of the country.

Madrid
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8. Re: Smoking & Spain in 2008

well, I think Madrid is more modern and prosperous than Barcelona, all new ideas start in Madrid and after Barcelona copy them.

Benson, Arizona
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9. Re: Smoking & Spain in 2008

Interesting discussion....as an ex-smoker from the US...I was in Barcelona last Thanksgiving(November for non americans :-) ) and I do not remember any smoking at all, in the bars, restaurants or even on the streets....I was just in Prague and they smoke everywhere...I really could smell it ...a smell I haven smelled since I quit....I live in Italy at the moment and I don't think of it being that prevalent at least not in Venice...I will be curious how it goes when I go to spain next month....

I was surprised though at how many of the young people are the ones I see smoking so much....

Barcelona, Spain
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10. Re: Smoking & Spain in 2008

I will not argue with an authentic Madrid's Chulapo. They are so happy thinking they live in the center of Spain, therefore the center of the world ;o))