Today is the first day of the new anti-tobacco law in Spain. The new law which was passed by the Spanish parliament in September last year is designed above all to protect workers in hotels and restaurants. However it also aims to protect people from passive smoking and raises the legal age for buying cigarettes in an attempt to prevent young people from becoming addicted to tobacco early on.
The government says that the new law is both ‘important and necessary for society’, ‘gives priority to public health’ and is ‘a decisive step towards protecting the health of Spaniards’.
The new law prohibits smoking in all enclosed public spaces which are defined as ‘all places accessible to the public’. Under the new law smoking is forbidden on all forms of public transport as well as on terraces which are enclosed by two walls.
However, some exceptions have been made. Hotel owners are allowed to designate a maximum of 30% of their rooms for smokers.
These rooms must be clearly labelled as rooms where smoking is permitted and be in a separate area. Workers are not permitted to enter the room unless they are empty apart from in the case of an emergency.
Smoking in open spaces at universities and other adult education centres is also permitted under the new anti tobacco law as long as it is not at the immediate entrance to buildings or pavements leading to them.
Other exceptions apply to prisoners, psychiatric patients and residents of old peoples’ homes or centres for the disabled as long as smoking takes place in specially designated rooms which have ventilation or outside areas which have been set aside for smoking.
Members of private clubs and associations are also permitted to smoke as long as they do not have commercial interests. However, this also means that children are not allowed to enter them.
The new law also states that programmes to help people stop smoking should be promoted and access to treatment for addiction to tobacco should be increased.
Furthermore the law forbids television programmes to show any images of presenters or guests smoking or to refer to smoking in any way either directly or indirectly. All logos relating to tobacco products are strictly forbidden although images of people smoking in films are permitted.
Lastly the new law states that the government has the right to determine the contents and components of tobacco products including addictive elements and control over the labelling of products.