By Nancy Todd
I enter one of my favorite tapas bars, order patatas bravas and a chilled glass of vino de blanco. Soon my eyes begin to sting. Cough Cough. Snort. Wheeze. Blowing your nose on a date is not sexy.
When I get home, I drape my duds over chairs on the terrace to purge my smokey clothes of stink. Smoke filled restaurants and bars are typical in Spain. If Italy and France can ban smoking, so can Spain.
Fifty per cent of people in Spain die of smoke related causes. A tobacco law introduced in 2005 banned smoking from public places like buses. If a restaurant had a space more than 1,000 square feet. they had to have a non-smoking area. A survey showed this ban had not been followed in more than fifty per cent of businesses.
A new smoking ordinance, due to take effect in January, 2010, has been stalled by haggling opposition parties. The ban is now to be enacted in January, 2011. The Popular Party (the PP) has not agreed to the ban. Regional Health Chief, Juan Jose Guemes, a member of the PP weakly stated, “You never get good results from banning something.” I’ll bet he is a smoker and cigarette lobbyists are paying for his golf trips to Brazil. In this case, good results could mean a reduction in cancer, heart disease, etc. Meanwhile, political parties fume, and people continue to die. Watch Gueme’s golf game. If it gets better, Spain has not banned smoking.
My local favorite bar, Cafe del Centre, is owned by non smokers. Jordi, one of the owners, told me if they banned smoking, they would lose too much business. Opponents contend that the country would lose billions in tax revenues.
Fortunately hospitals, offices, buses, etc. do not allow smoking. Perhaps we should socialize, food/wine in hand, in these places and party down. However, I don’t want my next birthday party to be in a bus. Spain has come along way since the Franco years. Come on, Spain, get into the 21st century and blow out the smoking.
What are your views on smoking in public places? Let us know in the comments box below.