Two more European countries join Ireland, Italy and Norway in banning smoking in public places. In Spain. people will not be able to light up in all workplaces, shopping centres and other enclosed public spaces and cigarette vending machines are history.
Bars and restaurants larger than 100 sq metres must have designated smoking areas. Smaller establishment can choose to either become smoke-free or if they allow it, they must exclude anyone under 18 years of age.
Thirty per cent of Spaniards smoke – one of the highest rates in Europe – and the government said the law is needed to prevent some of the 50,000 deaths each year from smoking related illnesses. One opinion poll showed three quarters of Spanish people (77%) support the ban, but almost as many (70%) said it would be hard for the public to obey it in a country where the habit is very much part of daily life.
Belgium is opting for a more selective ban. The law in effect from the beginning of the new year makes workplaces smoke-free. The legislation applies to every part of the workplace under the authority of the employer. This includes offices, garages, corridors, canteens, toilets, and any vehicles used by the company. One Belgian office worker said: “We’re losing something from our lives and frankly, it’s something we will miss because when there’s a problem it does help me concentrate better on my work. From 1 January 2007, no one will be able to light up in a Belgian restaurant, but restaurateurs will be able to set aside rooms for smokers as long as no food is served there.
Cafés and bars will escape the ban.