Total smoking ban comes to Catalonia
Smoking is banned in all restaurants and clubs in Spain from the 2nd January 2011. The new law aims to put the state on the same level as other European countries such as the UK
Barcelona (ACN).- The stereotypical image of the Catalan cafe, with customers drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes is history. Since the 2nd of January, smoking has been prohibited in all public places in Spain, including pubs, restaurants and clubs, and areas close to children parks and hospitals. The new legislation goes one step further than the smoking law passed in 2004, which still allowed smoking in some bars and restaurants. Now cigarettes are banned in all of them, and clients must go to the terraces if they want to smoke.
The new legislation is broadly accepted among citizens. However, some smokers and restaurant and bar owners criticize that the measure goes too far. They fear that the ban will provoke a reduction of clients. They defend the former law that allowed smoking in some restaurants. In fact, Mònica Díap, owner of the bar 'La Ventana' told CNA that the real problem was the 'tobacco companies', so if the government wants to protect citizen's health, it should ban their activities rather than prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants. A waiter at the restaurant, 'El Reloj', José Manuel Ramíres, also stated that the new law would decrease the number of clients, especially during the night. He said that the possibility to offer smoke-free and smoke-friendly areas in restaurants was 'the best option'. However, other waiters welcomed the initiative, as they considered that the smoke in the restaurants was especially harmful for them and that the new situation would create better working conditions. Amongst the smoker clients, there was a lot of resignation. Some of them have decided to drink their coffee on the terraces, despite the cold weather. The non-smokers, though, are happy with the changes, and feel that the new regulation will protect their health and create nicer environments in restaurants. The Spanish Health minister, Leire Pajín, said that the new law will put Spain at the same level of 'health standards \u2018with other countries within the European Union. Pajín argues that the law aims to protect the health of citizens rather than restrict their liberties to smoke whenever they want.