Spain - hotel and catering industry protests plan to ban smoking next year..

December 18, 2009 - MADRID — Spain's hotel and catering industry Tuesday protested a government plan to ban smoking in public places next year, warning that it could severely affect its business, already hit by the economic crisis.

On Monday, December 14th Spain's Health Minister said the government hopes to pass a law next year to ban smoking in enclosed public places such as bars and restaurants.

Jose Luis Guerra, deputy head of Spain's Hotel and Catering Association (FEHR): "We
are very concerned of the negative consequences of this plan. Our problem is that 40 percent of our customers link smoking with the consumption of products in hotels and restaurants," he told Spanish National Radio.

He predicted a fall of 10 percent in business if the ban is imposed.

Spain already has an anti-smoking law in force since January 2006, less restrictive that in other European countries, which bans smoking in the workplace and on public transport but only partially in bars and restaurants.

"This comes at the worst moment for the catering industry in 15 years," said Guerra.

The Spanish economy, Europe's fifth biggest, remains mired in a recession that began in late 2008, with unemployment at around 19 percent.

Reference: Spanish catering industry protests planned smoking ban, Agence France-Presse (AFP) -, 12/15/2009.

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