Larger bars and restaurants, however, had to have a designated smoking area for their patrons.
The ban, introduced at midnight on January 1st, is one of the most severe in Europe, banning as it does smoking in all closed public spaces as well as open spaces such as children’s play areas and around hospitals.
Fines for those caught breaking the ban range from €30 to €600,000.
Most in the hospitality trade would have preferred to postpone the ban until a time when the Spanish economy is not in such dire straits but Leire Pajin, Spain’s Minister for Health, pointed out recently that 70 per cent of Spaniards don’t smoke, “… so it’s logical to think they will be more comfortable in bars when there is no tobacco smoke in them”. In this respect, his sentiments echo the former Irish Minister for Health’s reasoning at the time of the ban’s introduction here.
It has been estimated that the ban could cost up to 350,000 jobs in the hospitality industry in a county which already has an unemployment rate of 20 per cent. Spain’s Institute of Economic Research reckons that turnover in bars could drop by up to 10 per cent as a result of the ban.