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Spain: lessons of a not-so-smoke-free law
  1. J Toledo
  1. Public Health Direction Genera, Government of Aragón, Spain;

    Statistics from

    Under a law that came into force at the beginning of the year, smoking has been completely banned (not even allowing any smoking areas) in all workplaces in Spain, except in the hospitality and gambling sectors. There, depending on the size or where the premises are located, different regulations apply. Some important lessons are emerging from this two-tier system.

    The regulations allow the owners of bars and restaurants having a “useful surface for clients” smaller than 100 square metres to decide whether or not they allow smoking in their premises. They can also decide to have a partial ban, either by making separate areas according to the regulations for larger premises, or by putting up signs informing customers in which part of the premises (without physical barriers) smoking is permitted. There is no definition in the law about the meaning of “useful surface”, so owners tend to want as much useless surface as possible to avoid having to be considered a larger place. Most bars fall in this category, and most of them allow smoking, as they fear the loss of revenue.

    In those bars and restaurants larger than 100 square metres of “useful surface” smoking is banned, but completely isolated smoking areas can be created, requiring good ventilation systems, and can occupy as much as 30% of the useful surface. If these changes are not carried out by 1 September this year, the entire premises must be smoke-free. This means some owners have to invest in reshaping the premises, or else ban smoking. Many …

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