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Spain's strict new anti-smoking rules take effect

image captionAnti-smoking rules introduced in 2006 let bars choose whether to ban smoking

A tough anti-smoking law has taken effect in Spain.

The ban - one of the strictest in Europe - outlaws smoking in all bars and restaurants. Smokers will also be prohibited on television broadcasts, near hospitals or in school playgrounds.

The law tightens anti-smoking restrictions introduced in 2006.

Spain has a strong cafe culture and the owners of bars and cafes have complained the law will hurt business.

The anti-smoking rules introduced in 2006 outlawed smoking in the workplace, but let bar and restaurant owners choose whether or not to allow it. Most chose not to impose any ban.

Only large restaurants and bars were obliged to provide a smoke-free area.

Hotel, restaurant and bar owners have said they could face a 10% drop in trade with the new rules. The industry has already seen a sharp fall in sales due to Spain's economic problems.

But doctors argue the new legislation will help smokers give up.

Some 50,000 Spaniards a year die from smoking-related illnesses, according to figures from the Spanish health ministry, which estimates that "between three and nine" people a day die because of passive smoking.

BBC News website readers in Spain have been sending in their comments

I'm Spanish and I'm a smoker, but I agree with some of these rules. I understand that it is quite annoying for a non-smoker to be in a pub or in a restaurant and find it difficult to breathe. Personally, I don't mind having to smoke outside a pub or a bar, basically because in countries such as England, Ireland and France people have been doing it for years and citizens have accepted it. It's me who decides to smoke and I have to go through some collateral damage if I want to respect non-smokers' right to breathe. But one rule that I find amusing is the prohibition of smoking in playgrounds (I have no objections as for hospitals). In theory, that would be OK if it weren't for the fact that adults who won't smoke in the playground so as not to damage their children, will do it at home, and who will supervise that? Veronica, Valencia

I'm delighted. Spain has an strong cafe culture, that's exactly why I'm expecting to be able to enjoy it from now on. Carmelo, Bilbao

This is only another page of liberties harassment, I don't see the problem if smokers are kept together standing and smoking in a cubicle at the airport. Our freedom is being battered, democracy is the government of majorities but it should also respect the minorities. Berto, Las Palmas

I am a Spaniard and I am currently in Spain. I am looking forward to this restriction taking effect. I do understand that people are free to choose whether to smoke or not... but, up to now smokers have enjoyed more freedom than non-smokers. Smokers benefit from public areas more than non-smokers, even when the highest percentage of the population are non-smokers. I have nothing to say if people want to smoke in their private places, in their home or car... I think it was Rousseau who said that your freedom in the community ends where my freedom begins. Inma, Sevilla

People in high places again making unpopular decisions. What gets me is this, they show us statistics but never proof, they tell us a ban such as this is to help people give up smoking but the sale of tobacco in the places where its use is banned goes on, just more control. In this town, like many, thousands of lorries pass through narrow streets and we all have to suffer the fumes. We all have a duty not to smoke near children that is logic more than law... But... going for a smoke. Tomas, Ermua, Basque Country

I am a passive smoker and I think it is a good law. The problem is the little bars and cafes. I don't like to eat in restaurants with a smoker near to me. In Europe people smoke in the street. I think smokers in Spain can smoke in the street. If they give up smoking, it will be better for them and Spanish society. Manuel, Figueres

I'm Spanish and I'm so happy for the new anti-smoking rules. Now it will be possible to enter any restaurant or bar without having to smell cigarettes all around. This is really good news. Since smoking was prohibited in some establishments in 2006 we have seen that in those restaurants where you can choose smoking or non-smoking area, the one which is always full of people is the non-smoking, that's the reason why I think that restaurants are not going to lose customers, people will just get used to it. Pilar, Lleida

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