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Smoking ban fetches mixed results
13 January 2011 @ 21:03

Taken from the RTN

smoking-large.gifSmoking ban fetches mixed results

SPAIN IMPLEMENTED the new smoking ban on 2nd January this year, so far producing mixed results.  Thanks to a very understanding government, who no doubt suffered hangovers on New Year’s day, the official 'Prohibido Fumar' commenced on January 2nd, giving the country time to adjust to its new lifestyle.
Visiting restaurants, coffee shops and supermarkets, the overall consensus so far has been a lack of interest, with more interest in “the sunny weather” holding out.  Joanne of Ricardos in Guardamar claims, “The weather seemed to change the same day as the ban and with everyone staying outside we have not yet seen a difference in trade.”  Another nearby restaurant had a different opinion of the smoking ban.  Mario Perlaza of El Raso Restaurante stated, “We did not allow smoking indoors before and all smoking was outside only.  For us nothing has changed.”
Moving further afield, I visited a quaint bar in La Marina where a group of residents were enjoying coffee.  Amongst them were Phyllis Hone, a smoker and Rita Cable, a non-smoker: “I don't mind going outside,” declared Phyllis, “It's nice to stretch your legs every now and again and I've always had to do it as the smoker amongst us.”  Rita however was one of the first encounters I found that felt a change since the ban: “It's nice not to be sitting in smoke.  In a place like this (Bar Stop) it’s so small it gets smoky very quickly.”
One notable point that has come to light so far is that the worse hit appears to be the Spanish establishments.  Cafetería Varo's in Benijofar, located in the high street and on the corner to the Tuesday market, has felt the hit hard:  “Far worse,” was the immediate response I received when I asked if there had been any effect on business in the cafe. “Consumption has dropped and people don't stay.  They can't smoke inside and it is cold outside so they come in, have a coffee and go.”
All establishments are now required under the new law to hang the traditional ‘PROHIBIDO FUMAR’ clearly visible to patrons, even nightclubs.  Cine y Copas, one of the largest night clubs after Bacanal has had to clean up and clear out as night goers can no longer smoke inside.  One party goer’s opinion was very clear as he held out his shirt: “Smell – nothing!  Normally you can't see the ceiling, there is so much smoke.  At least now I don’t smell when I get home.”
Smoking has been a lifelong tradition in Spain where in the past it was permissible to smoke even while in surgery.  However, there is still the loophole of electronic cigarettes whose sales have gone through the roof in the last couple of months.  According to records kept by pharmacies, sales have increased from the monthly average of 400 units sold per month to over 2,000 in the run up of the smoking ban. 

Other products selling out include nicotine patches and gum for those attempting to stop with the introduction of the ban.  One example is Flore Poloni who has been trying to stop for years and with the ban has been given the final incentive: “I stopped two weeks ago.  I want to stop for my children.  Also, I work in a restaurant and I can't smoke there now either.”  Casa Blanca is an international restaurant and according to Poloni, is another not to have felt any affect yet as 90% of the customers sit outside taking the sun and the sea.

There are those however, that are already bucking the system.  La Bohemia in Alicante has already received its first fine for allowing smoking indoors.  With a sign hanging outside ‘PERMITIDO FUMAR’, it is no wonder that Local Police dropped by, catching both staff members and members of the public lighting up.  La Bohemia has since been fined €600 and any member of the public that caught at the time €30 each. €600 is the minimum fine that can be given to an establishment; it can reach as high as €10,000 for this infraction.  Fines for individuals start at €30 but are discretionary.
Reaching out to the public, Facua have set up a website so that if one feels an establishment is not following the new regulations, they can be reported at You will be asked to provide personal details but these are for the use of the investigation only.
With a further cold snap around the corner, perhaps the reality will be felt harder as consumers rush home out of the cold and not to the coffee bars.


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