The impact of Spain’s smoking ban, five years on

The impact of Spain’s smoking ban, five years on

Experts say public backing has helped overcome initial reluctance

On January 2, 2011, Spain finally banned smoking in bars and restaurants. The new legislation came into force amid the country’s worst economic crisis in a lifetime, prompting protests from the  hospitality sector, as well as complaints about establishments allegedly in breach of it.

“The measures could not have been implemented at a worse time,” says Emilio Gallego, head of Spain’s FEHR national hostelry federation. “The impact, right at the epicenter of the economic crisis, was tremendous.”

Although tobacco restrictions had been in force before 2011, in some regions, establishments had been allowed to create smoking areas using extractor fans and air conditioning, which in many cases involved significant investment.

But despite complaints from the bar and restaurant industry, the general public seems to have backed the ban, at least according to Francisco Rodríguez Lozano, president of a Europe-wide anti-smoking network. “Society supported the law,” he says, pointing out that the number of smokers has fallen by 2% over the last five years and that although no figures are yet available, there is likely to be a fall in heart and lung illnesses. There have already been fewer cases of asthma among children, Rodríguez notes, adding that all of this will have a long-term benefit for the health system.-reports the El Pais.

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