The Spanish government has announced this week reforms which aim to prevent people from smoking in public and private work areas, teaching and sport centres and bars.
Until now, Spain has been one of Europe’s most “permissive” (in words of Elena Salgado, Spain’s Health Minister) countries in terms of the price of cigarettes and the availability of places where people can smoke. Until very recently, restaurants and bars were all-smoking zones, and it was quite usual to be attended in places like a bank or a public administration by someone with a cigarette dangling from his or her fingers.
Spain’s present government is determined to tackle the problem of tobacco addiction in Spain and announced this week measures aimed at reducing consumption. The government hopes to reach consensus with all the affected groups in terms of advertising, public spaces where smoking is allowed and the legal age at which teenagers are alllowed to buy cigarrettes – the Health Minister has already announced that fines imposed for selling tobacco to teenagers under the age-limit will be more severe than at present.
Ms Salgado, underlined last week that tobacco-addiction is the main cause of death in Spain, and the precentage of smokers in Spain is one of the highest in Europe. She said that government reforms would try to protect the rights of non-smokers and help smokers to give up the habit.
New anti-tobacco legislation in Spain is expected to be passed in 2006 and will include the following clauses:
- The sale of tobacco to people under 18 years throughout Spain will be illegal (in some autonomous communities the legal age is 16)
- The sale of tobacco will be forbidden in all health clinics, centres of education, culture and/or sport activities, and associations offering care and leisure to adolescents
- Smoking will be forbidden in all closed places of work in the private and public sectors
- Smoking will be forbidden in all health and education centers; sport facilities; centers offering advice and attention to citizens; centers offering help to teenagers under 18 and places where food is prepared, made or sold
- Smoking will be forbidden in all lifts, telephone booths, indoor cashpoints, public transport, bus stations, and all areas of public transport which are not open air (metro, indoor bus stations, railway stations, airports….
According to the latest figures, tobacco causes 50,000 deaths in Spain each year, i.e. more than all deaths caused by AIDS, alcohol and road accidents together.