Palencia, Spain - hotels and restaurants protest anti-smoking law..

January 28, 2011 - Hotels and restaurants in the northern Spanish town of Palencia (Palencia provincia (province), north-central Spain) closed on Wednesday, January to protest the country's tough anti-smoking law which took effect this year. (Spain - anti-smoking law goes into effect Sunday, January 2, 2010.)

About 100 professionals from the sector also staged a demonstration, some carrying banners saying "If you don't smoke, we don't get paid. Let us live" and "Total ban, sector ruined."

Trade associations said 60 to 70 percent of the hotels and restaurants in the town of around 80,000 people closed for the day.Spain - anti-smoking law goes into effect Sunday, January 2, 2010. It was the first major demonstration against the anti-smoking law, one of the strictest in Europe, since it was introduced on January 2.

The new law bans smoking in all enclosed public spaces, including bars, restaurants and nightclubs and makes it illegal to smoke in children's parks or anywhere on school or hospital grounds.

The hotel and restaurant industry fears the law could cut sales by between five and 15 percent. Last week, the Spanish Hotel and Catering Association launched an effort to obtain half a million signatures on a petition to demand that parliament change the legislation.

Spain has had an anti-smoking law since January 2006 but the impact was barely noticeable. It banned smoking in the workplace, on public transport and in shops. But it allowed owners of bars, restaurants and cafes to decide whether to ban smoking or not. Most, faced with a drop in business, naturally chose to permit their customers to light up. (Spain - impact of 2006 law banning smoking in public places..)

MADRID (AFP) - Spain announced Friday, January 27th its jobless rate surged to a 13-year record above 20 percent at the end of 2010, the highest level in the industrialised world, as the economy gasped for air. (Spain Unemployment Rate Surges To Highest In Industrialized World)

Reference: Spanish town rebels against anti-smoking law, Agence France-Presse (AFP), 1/26/2011.

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