No Smoking Law in Spain

Sunday, January the 2nd, 2011, saw Spain introducing the most severe no smoking in public places law in the whole of Europe.

From this date, it is now illegal to smoke in bars, clubs and restaurants as well as in the general workplace as their first no smoking ban, passed in 2006, had already put in place, but with the choice placed on the owner to become smoking or non-smoking if the premises were under 100 square metres.

This choice is now taken away. There is to be no smoking at all.

In addition, one may not smoke outdoors near a children's playground, nor near schools. Live television broadcasts will not be allowed to show someone smoking, and smoking will be banned in hospital grounds as well as inside the buildings.

The only exception will be allowed for prisons, psychiatric units and long stay care units.

Strangely, the bill has not yet passed senate although it is being applied from January 2, 2011. Powerful lobbies from the bigger restauranteurs are demanding a compensation system is put in place for their members who spent thousands of euros making the required changes the government demanded when their first No Smoking Law was passed in 2006.

At that time, smoking was banned in all public places except small bars and restaurants. Larger bars or restaurants over 100 m2 were required to install a separate smokers area. This area had to be partitioned off, with the installation of expensive smoke extraction equipment to take the smoke away.

While the choice was left with the bar owner to be smoking or no smoking, bar owners who opted to become non-smoking quickly saw a steep drop off in trade. Because of this they soon allowed smoking again, and many went to great expense to provide an area for smokers that left the rest of their patrons in a smoke free area.

The only legal requirement on the bar owner was to display a prominent notice outside their premises to say whether or not they permitted smoking.

This way, people who were seriously anti-smoking had the choice of whether to enter or not.

Also in 2006 with the first No Smoking Law, the right to sell cigarettes was taken away from shops, filling stations and alll the traditional places one may have bought tobacco.

Instead, one could only buy cigarettes and tobacco from government licensed "estancos", clearly visible by the yellow and brown "tabacos" logo.

There is generally one estanco in each village, larger villages possibly having 2 or more depending on their population.

The only other way you can buy cigarettes is through a cigarette machine situated in pubs, restaurants and hotels.These machines are expensive, and the cost of the licence required to operate them prohibitive.

Not only that, but the price of cigarettes is strictly controlled by the government, and machine cigarettes can only be sold at 15 cents a packet more than at the Estancos.

As a result, many bars do not have the equipment.

For those that do, they must also operate the machine remotely from behind the bar, to prevent anyone under 18 years old from buying cigarettes.

Cigarette machines in hotels must be unplugged when their bar shuts, so it was no longer possible for revellers to return to their hotel in the early hours and buy packets from the machine.

Strange but True

Smoking will be permitted in private member's clubs, provided the club apply for a special licence. Once granted, members will be allowed to smoke to their hearts content.

However, those smoking clubs will not be allowed to serve any food or drink, whether bought or brought in to the premises by the patrons themselves.

Nor will any children be allowed in.

What is the point in that? You can go to the club but not even have a coffee with your cigarette. Might as well stay at home!

The Spanish people have a smoking tradition dating back 500 years ever since Spaniard Christopher Columbus brought tobacco back from his travels to the New World.

In recent years, the Spanish government has put the price of cigarettes up to prohibitive levels supposedly to try and reduce smoking levels, but it is generally known that the country is almost bankrupt in the depth ofrecession and another income source is always welcome.

What will happen to Spain's bars, restaurants and clubs now?

It is widely reported in the media that the smoking ban in other countries has been successful, but if you look around you will see instead that not only have a huge number of bars gone out of business, but that people are more likely to buy drink from cheap supermarkets to drink at home, perhaps with friends round, rather than go out to the bars where they are treated like social lepers.

It is normal in Spain for the men to relax in a pub or bar at any time of the day with a couple of cañas (pr.canyas) and a tapas or two. Now that Antonio or Raul can no longer smoke they may well stay away, or else just have a quick caña (small beer) and leave.

Family life also revolves around bars. Fathers will simply not enter bars where their children aren't welcome too. For generations, Spanish children have grown up around a bar culture and as adults they respect alcohol. It is very seldom you ever see a Spaniard drunk.

The chances of these families visiting bars is now considerably reduced, though you may indeed see an increase in mothers taking their children into bars which is not good for the bar owner's profits.

Those wanting a quiet drink will find it almost impossible as bars turn into nurseries.

This will detrimentally affect the bar owners profits and long-term his ability to stay open will be put in doubt.

bars of the future in Spain? Empty.
bars of the future in Spain? Empty.

A lot of people have argued that the smoker's ability to smoke outside the bars with their many terraces and street tables will keep small bar owners afloat.

Two points here, not every bar has a terrace, and even for those who do, the weather is not all sunshine and warmth.

In winter, it is cold, especially after sunset which occurs at about 5pm. It is frequently windy, and when it rains it is impossible to stand in the street.

Holland has just repealed its No Smoking in small bars law. Perhaps in future that will happen in Spain too.

If you are travelling to Spain on vacation and wish to know the current prices of tobacco in Spain, simply check out any online 'estanco', as the prices are the same no matter where you go.

Check out Eurotobaco for exchange rates too. www.eurochange.es


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Comments 35 comments

aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 5 years ago from Malaga, Spain

Izzy, you remind me why I left Spain after 25 years, to find more a more accommodating place to reside!

Yes Zappatero and his PC amigos have lost the plot, hopefully the Spanish will replace the PSOE with PP and some of the nonsense can be sorted out.

Well written hub, no wonder you are hovering on the magical 100!

John


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

I didn't know you'd left Spain, John? Where are you now? Oh and thanks for the comments. I've got my flak jacket on waiting for the anti-smoking brigade!


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 5 years ago from Malaga, Spain

I'm now in Penang, down Singapore way, where there is no recession and life is sweeter!

Spain got to be too anally retentive for me! and besides it looks like ten years before it will be solvent again! and I'm too old to await the change back to abundance, so we hitched the wagons and headed East!

BTW well done, you have made great progress this last year!

John


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

wow...that's FAR away!! I had no idea. I thought your were settled on the Costa Del Sol.

Maybe I should up sticks too before Spain gets even more beaurocratic than it is. I can only thank God I no longer own a bar because it would be going down the Swanee now for sure. Thanks for the congrats! I have worked hard but still not earning enough to live here where it is getting more expensive by the day...still, maybe in a year or two if the authorities could hold their horses for a bit I might find a bit of breathing space.


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 5 years ago from Malaga, Spain

I was settled on the Costa del Sol, for 25 years, and it was home to me, but the credit crunch wiped my project and my finances out, so why stay around.

Penang is like Spain used to be, minimal hassles and all solvable with a small gratuity, very open and friendly society, easy parking, cheap food and lifestyle, except for booze! (Muslim Country, they let you drink, but charge heavy taxes on booze... hypocrisy and greed combined!)

I love it!

Hope you stay afloat in Espana, and that things improve quickly, though frankly I doubt they will, too much debt to be repaid and the PSOE have stuffed up the economy.

Move while you can still get out!, that was my thinking.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Ah well going by your last sentence I am stuck here for a while yet, unless I want to give my house away. Nothing is sellable at the moment - at least not without a huge drop in value. Penang sounds ideal except for the drink prices - that might upset me more than I know. Used to wine at 55 cents a litre (OK its just chemical muck, but its affordable lol). Not sure a change in party will help Spain - local village here is PP run and full of corruption. I'm sure there must be a sensible politician here but have yet to meet him (or her).


chspublish profile image

chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

The implication of the smoking ban law in Spain is going to cause lots of pain and hassle until things settle down. The thing is, all may seem very doubtful and negative because it is impossible, at this stage, to understand what the outcome will be. Will the bar trade go down, will families not visit? What will the smokers do etc?

It really all depends on people's attitude.

Wait to see what happens. In 2004, Ireland was the first country in the world to implement a smoking ban in all public places.

As you can imagine, social life in Ireland revolves around the pub life.

There was a hug outcry, especially from the vintners and owners who marched on the government buildings and made all sorts of demands and threats - but to no avail.

There was a fine of €3000 if anyone was caught disobeying the new ban.

Gues what? A partiuclar politiican was caught smoking in the members bar and was given the full face of the fine -€3ooo!! This caused another outcry and people saw that as a very severe punishment. Pub and hotel owners continued to complain abou the loss of business etc.

However on the bright side of things other owners saw the benefits of the new ban and ancouraged new business- especially from those who did not frequent smoky places - this was new business. They also saw the benefits of providing outside smoking areas for the smokers. A cold compromise, I know, but some of these areas have outside heating! Not so bad!

Six years later and the hullabaloo has died down. Business have shifted slightly and the general feeling is that everyone prefers a less smoky atmosphere, particularly for the workers.

The ban was brought in to protect the health of workers in smoky environments from passive smoking.

Hope this helps.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

I am surprised Ireland accepted it so readily, and the same with Scotland and a year later England. I am not convinced passive smoking is the danger they make it out to be, when we all breathe in noxious fumes every day from exhaust and factory emissions. Just about all barmen in Spain smoke themselves, so just who were the 100,000 barmen that have supposedly died in Spain due to passive smoking? I hate going into bars in the UK - they smell of sweat, stale beer and unwashed bodies now. The smell of smoke was preferable! I have not been out since they brought the ban in (ok at this point it is only a few days) but I have no desire to go out either because it is cold out! I can sit in the comfort of my own home with no-one forcing me out the door. Come the summer, the ban will be easier to cope with but not at this time of year - and yes it will hit tourism. Smokers will go to other countries with less strict laws.


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 5 years ago from Sweden

It is the same in Sweden too, no smoking in bars, restaurants, hospitals or workingplaces! And last year Norway followed with pretty much the same restrictions I think. Initially there was a hugh outcry in Sweden too, but now most people have exepted it. Those who still smoke are perhaps not too happy because they have to go outdoors to smoke, and that is hard during wintertime! But apart from that I agree with chspublish obove, that most people prefers a more healty environment indoors. And there is no secret that a main reason for making life more difficult for smokers also is to decrease smoking in general because smoking affects the helth! A very interesting hub!


Ranzi profile image

Ranzi 5 years ago from All Over

Are you a smoker Izzy?


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Yes I am. I'm not pleased with this Law that really has damaged the pub trade across Europe. I've also been a publican so I know how hard it is to get people through that door.


copernico profile image

copernico 5 years ago from Canada

They'll eventually get used to it. In Canada (more or less depending on the Province) smoking is banned from bars, pubs, restaurants and any other public space and people live happily. Smokers just go out, take their five minutes for a smoke and go in again. Moreover, most rental properties are "smoking free" so tenants don't even smoke at home (they do it outdoors, in the porch or backyard). It's not easy to break a century-long habit but it doesn't mean that it can't be done.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

It's a world-wide thing...why not just ban the sale of cigarettes completely? So they are banning smoking while trying to legalise pot...


Waterman62 5 years ago

I grew up in a house full of smokers. I didn't myself - which is something of a miracle. I took it for granted though and it no doubt didn't do me much good as a kid. Now I live in Spain and there has been a choice for the last few years. With that choice you got the chance to visit both environments with a clear divide. With this you realised the difference in the air quality and just what it might be doing to you. Stinging eyes, smelly clothes let alone the extra coughing going on. I feel sorry for the negative impact on businesses and many will suffer and go down. However, the economy will adjust itself in the years ahead and people will have this money to spend on something else or save it. Saying, economically speaking, this is the worst time to bring in this law is easily balanced by saying it's the best time for smokers to give up or cut down and save a few euros.

Also, sometimes, for the sake of convenience for those attending you had to eat somewhere where smoking was permitted. Now I won't have to suffer someone lighting-up post-meal on the next table when I'm just starting my meal. In one quick law change this selfish uneducated behaviour (very prevalent in Spain) is eradicated.


rich_hayles profile image

rich_hayles 5 years ago

Great hub Izzy,

The governments of this world won't ban tobacco as it brings in so much (I believe) in tax. I live in the UK and the price of a 20 pack of cigs is £6 (around 7.2EUR) with most of it being tax.

I used to work in nightclubs and was around during the transition between smoking and none smoking. I thought it would be the end of the trade as we know it but it was a great dynamic change. The none smokers created a whole new social scene outside where they can smoke and I now find a lot of none smokers joining them to chat.

The inside of most venues vastly improve due to the change also. I used to smoke and quit a few years ago so it is a welcome change from my perspective. As one poster stated this brings a new set of people out that were unhappy with going home stinking of smoke every weekend.

It works both ways and you will get used to it quickly. Who knows, you might even come to prefer it.


grippio 5 years ago

hi izzy love the hub i was just wondering about the state of costa del sol at the moment i have been thinking of taking on a bar in fuengriola things have gotten so bad over here in ireland it is impossible to find work. and want to put my savings to good use and give my self work at the same time.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

The whole of Spain is in depression and I've no idea how the Costa Del Sol is faring (I'm in the Costa Blanca)but if that is your dream I'd say "Go for it". You should be able to pick up a bargain business just now and negotiate with the landlord for a lower rent. Just make sure you have a terrace for the smokers!


ngureco profile image

ngureco 5 years ago

Sorry, but banning cigarettes’ smoking seems to be the trend the world over. It seems Spain has been lagging behind. The next step is to ban excessive consumption of alcohol. In some countries in this world, like my country, we have fellows (and most of them are men) who have neglected their families (including making love) for many years just because of alcohol.The governments will need to reduce significantly the number of hours/day a person can consume alcohol.

The central banks will tell where the spare money is going and will take the taxman there. Don’t joke with the taxman - he can even tax idle money in the bank so that you can remove it from bank for investments that will create more jobs.

Sooner, the dust will settle and we’ll stop seeing as if governments are interfering with our social lives.

Never mind. What the majority wants is what we shall do.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

I honestly think its just a giant experiment. If they seriously were worried about people's health they would ban smoking altogether and live without the tax revenue it brings in. Same with alcohol.


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 5 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

Polititians do not care about recession (they don`t feel it on their skin - they always profit).

Smoking is banned in Croatia as well, so from recently, smokers enjoy sitting on the terraces with plenty of outside heaters during the winter. It can be very romantic, after you get used to it, just get dressed properly...and prepare yourself to drink your coffee a bit quicker, LOL.

Here is still allowed smoking in those coffee bars which have very special ventilation system - and those coffee bars are full of people, the others are empty (if they don`t have heated terrace) , but government plans to completely ban smoking even in places that have special ventilation system. And yes, this will cause a lot of financial damage to the owners of coffee bars, it already did. Restaurants (where smoking is not allowed at all any more) are suffering big financial troubles already.

At the same time, - law about 0,0%o alcohol in blood for drivers - did not pass. So drivers can freely drive after drink or two and cause accidents (according to the polititians, this is OK, why not, human life is not worthy a lot on the streets, we are touristic country - tourists, citizens and our polititians must drink and drive), but smokers are dangerous for health of the other people. Pollution isn`t.

This world is sometimes very crazy.

Great Hub...


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

This is interesting because that is what they did in Spain - permitted smoking in bars that offered special ventilation - then took that right away leaving the bar owners thousands of euros out of pocket. In Portugal they can still smoke in special smoking sections of bars. The bars are full because they raised the prices of alcohol in the shops, and lowered it in the bars - so a bottle of San Miguel, for example, costs €1.50 in the shop but only 60 cents in a bar. What a great idea! Other countries take note. There is Holland who had no smoking for three years but which has reversed the law to allow smoking in small bars again. In the UK there is strictly no smoking. Bars smell of sweat instead. Why have they blamed smoking for second hand illnesses and not looked at air pollution? - car and vehicle exhaust fumes etc. You are right it is a crazy world.


michifus profile image

michifus 5 years ago

Yeah, I agree that maybe the timing of the new law is not the best, especially for bar owners who are really suffering at the moment. But it is good for public health, which costs the health service dearly in the long run. However, its the banning smoking in all public places that is a bit much. You cant even smoke in a park. I believe that you cant smoke within 50 metres of a hospital or children's playground, which seems a little excessive.

Here in Barcelona, there has recently been a ban on public nudity too, including being bare chested in the street. Anyone would think they are trying to get rid of us nudist smokers.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

LOL @ the nudist smokers! The ban you are talking about maybe comes after the police denounced a young man for being topless in the street in the Basque country? Maybe Barcelona is just making sure they don't have this issue. In Benidorm it is now an offence to walk on the beach at night - I think that's maybe in case you intend to indulge in a little HowsyourFather - as shown in the Christmas 2010 special of TV prog Benidorm. There is a bar on my village whose terrace is situated half way between the school and the ajuntamiento, and of course no-one can smoke there (you can't smoke within 50 metres of the Town hall either!). That is crazy. I can see him losing his business soon.


StarCreate profile image

StarCreate 5 years ago from Spain

I don't really see that the timing makes a lot of difference - the recession hits across the board, and some bars and restaurants are going to become unprofitable and close, given how many Spain has per-head of population that is a sad inevitability of the downturn and nothing to do with smoking. For me, I have enjoyed taking the kids into bars in the winter and we've spent more on food, in places where it's not conducive to sit outside just now. If the smoking ban didn't damage pub culture in Ireland, then I expect it will survive in Spain one way or another... and I'll enjoy being able to take the kids anywhere, and not have to wash my coat and hair every time I pop out for a coffee.

I still really enjoyed reading this article though, and it will be interesting to see how this whole thing pans out, both here on the Costa and across Spain.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

I signed the petition against it. At least one pub in every village has the petition which was handed in by some random character who I assume is linked to the petition started in Andalusia. I appreciate what you say about non-smokers being entitled to sit in a smoke free area but as an ex-bar owner myself I know there have been smoking and non-smoking bars for a while (well OK not many nonsmoking, but the owner had the choice) and that really the best customers are smokers.


John Kennedy 5 years ago

I understand the anger of this ban but we hear about the efforts as well as the side-effects of smoking. I'm not a smoker and if I go to a public place I would like to enjoy that time without thinking about dying from some guy smoking across the room. There are alternative for smokers, that are safe and they say taste, feel and gives the pleasure of smoking. And it can be used in some public places.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

No-one is ever going to be happy here until smoking is made illegal. In the summer, when everyone sits out on bar terraces, there'll be double the complaints from the nonsmokers as they once again breathe in the fumes of the smokers which will seem worse after a period of no fumes. I hop someone complains to me, because they can always enter the roasting hot bar and sit in there smoke-free instead.


GrantGMcgowan profile image

GrantGMcgowan 5 years ago

Yeah lzzyM, I agree that.


Ranzi profile image

Ranzi 5 years ago from All Over

I think smoking should be illegal altogether. Tobacco companies are similar to legal drug dealers and smokers the legal addict.

Kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray, So gross …..

I like your style of writing...Peace and love


laral profile image

laral 5 years ago from England

Hi Izzy great hub! I respect that some people want to smoke and it is part of the culture in many places. However smoke is also the cause of many forms of cancers for both smokers and people around them. So I am in favour of the banning in public places. On the other end, the Spanish Government hasn't banned smoking all together so who wants to smoke can still enjoy the habit. In Italy the law to ban smoking in public places was passed around 2006. Initially there were complaints about bars losing business ect but in the end it did go really well. People have learned to live with it. I don't think is causing any problems at all. Spain will adapt well to the ban. Bars will attract another kind of clients like mums with young children and elderly people. For me there is nothing more disturbing than entering in a place that smells of cigarettes. If I was in Spain going down the local bar would be a very happy experience and I think lot of people would agree with me. About people who smoke outside usually you don't smell much because the breeze will take it away. Do not worry: it is going to be fine.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

I guess so, I just don't go out so much :)


mega1 profile image

mega1 5 years ago

I guess Spain will be more like California - where we are beginning to get used to no smoking laws for everything and everyone. I think the large health insurance lobby brought action on the lawmakers - tired of subsidizing the many health problems that smokers have. It didn't take long for people to stop complaining and realize how nice it is to have smokefree air around us. I smoked for many years, but now only seldom and I can say for sure I like it better this way even though I don't like to be told I can't. :) It's amazing really to think that when I was in high school the Principal's secretary smoked non-stop right there in the school - with an overflowing ashtray and smoker's cough! yuck! The times they are a-changing! Great hub, Izzy.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

You are right Mega it is so much better if people don't smoke. Of course it would be even better again if the big tobacco companies had not been allowed to add so many additives to cigarettes to make them more addictive. It is strange how all of a sudden governments are outlawing smoking in public places. Forces are definitely at work here that we do not know of.However, you are right, it is all to the good. Hard for smokers like me, but if it prevents the next generation from starting, then it may well be worth it.


mega1 profile image

mega1 5 years ago

One of the ways I quit was I forced myself to roll my own - which really slowed me down and made me think about it. Then if I really was desperate sometimes I smoked a little pipe bowl - which almost made me sick. The only way I ever could actually quit was just not to have any around - substitute gum or knitting (doing something else) and now I smoke only occasionally when I'm with old friends who smoke still. I have also recently lost a good friend to the ravages of smoke - he had only partial use of one lung left when he died, (he was only a few years older than me) so thinking of all the pain he went through makes it really easier not to smoke now. Oh, and my women friends who smoke have such very wrinkly skin now!! I'm really glad I quit when I did about 5 years ago.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Well, it;s all probably too late for me now, damage is done. Bad attitude I know, but there we are. I think there is an age we reach in life where we get a warning. Some of us listen, and some of us don't. I am past that age, and didn't listen, so what is left is down to me. My responsibilty, my risk.

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