Spain - still some hesitation on total smoking ban for country..

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January 6, 2010 - According to the Spanish government, smoking is the biggest killer in Spain and, in 2007, Spain suffered 50,000 smoking-related deaths. That´s an average of 137 deaths a day. Spain's Health Minister, Trinidad Jímenez, reported that smoking currently kills 153 people every day and that "between three and five people die every 24 hours as victims of passive smoking." (La Vida Loca: Life in Madrid : Spain´s Smoking Ban Gone Up In Smoke,, 12/10/2009)

Originally set to be implemented on the 1st of January this year, the smoking ban is still being debated in the halls of power here in Spain with opposition parties failing to agree and Madrid setting its own rules.

Spain’s Health Minister Trinidad Jiménez has stated that she wants a new tobacco ban prohibiting smoking in all public places throughout Spain to go into effect as soon as the ruling Socialist Party can gather cross party support for its ratification by Congress.

TheUnited Left (IU) and Catalan Nationalist (CiU) approve the across-the-board ban but the major opposition Popular Party has not officially said whether it will support it. However, Madrid regional health chief Juan José Güemes, a member of thePP, said Monday, January 4th he didn’t believe that the ban would work in the capital [Madrid]. “You never get good results from banning something,” Güemes said. “Restrictions mean curtailing freedoms and you have to be very careful about limiting individual guarantees.”

Deputy leader of the Madrid region, Ignacio González, also of the PP, said that his government would defend smokers’ rights “I believe that when it comes to the tobacco issue, one has to maintain some degree of respect — of course, at the same time looking at the legality of the legislation, but also ensuring that there is freedom to choose.”

It was in 2005, that the government introduced a tobacco law that has been poorly enforced. Under the regulations, public places more than 100-square-meters had to have a separate area for smokers. But a year later, a survey showed that more than half of the businesses around the country didn’t stick to the ban.

Madrid is different and the Madrid regional government issued its own decree, giving more freedom to smokers, such as allowing them to light up at certain areas at work and eliminating the 100-square-meter rule in the capital.

However, the PP regional governments seem divided over the introduction of the nationwide tobacco ban. Manuel Cervera, the health chief in Valencia, supports the Socialist government’s initiative. However, he criticizes the way the government may go about implementing it without considering alternatives for smokers.

Reference: SPAIN SPLIT ON SMOKING BAN, Staff Reporter, The Leader, 1/5/2010.

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