Stub it out in Spain

Published on 15/11/2006 in Spanish Culture

Every year thousands of people give up smoking, if not for the obvious health reasons but also because it burns a hole in your pocket. Some might be motivated by the thought of using the extra cash for flying back and forwards to Spain during the year. I am sure that some might even find that if they put away the money that they would have spent on cigarettes; within a few years they could have the deposit for another off-plan!

With careful planning and a bit of research by the end of February, you could use the funds to fly out to Spain to check up on the progress of your current off plan investment. However, for the newly ex-smoker, two months is still early days and Spain, whose national sport is smoking, might offer too much temptation.

We have all been there in a Spanish restaurant, savouring a great fish dish, when your swordfish is suddenly infused with essence of tobacco. It doesn’t matter how you position yourself on your seat, try moving but there’s no escape. Why? Because it’s all around. Everybody is doing it, puffing in synchrony. Cough and wave all you like, nobody cares. You’re in Spain where smoking is a “healthy” part of socialising and the unsociable, non-smoker freak is ignored.

However, times are changing. Or rather, new laws, which came into effect on the 1st January, are enforcing changes. For a start, after years of leaving the bank smelling like an ashtray, smoking has been banned in the workplace. Those of you bothered by smoke when eating out take your tape measure out with you and make sure you book tables in restaurants bigger than 100 square metres in size. It is in bars and restaurants of this size, that owners are legally obliged to create designated non-smoking areas.

Again, those of you disgusted by the stench of smoke which tends to be absorbed by hair and clothes will be relieved to know that the ban has been extended to lifts, cash machines, bus stations, trains and ferries.

The objective of the law is to protect the rights of those once ignored non-smokers and support those trying to quit. Those who break it face fines of up to 600 Euros. Nevertheless, this calls for a cultural change as smoking is an integral part of the Spanish lifestyle and is not yet considered unfashionable as it is in the UK and US. Also, bearing in mind that they lived under a dictatorship for many years, the Spanish are hardly going to take kindly to being told what to do again.

So, if you new ex-smokers are planning to come out in a couple of month’s time I can’t guarantee that Spain will be temptation free, although you might stand a better chance of avoiding it than in the past. Just don’t be tempted by the cheap cartons!

Written by: Susan Pedalino

About the author:Women In Spain




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