Spain - zero tolerence smoking ban this year or next??

April 21, 2010 - According to news in the Spanish Press, including La Razon (Spain's fifth highest-circulation general-interest daily newspaper based in Madrid), it’s possible that the Minister for Health, Trinidad Jimenez is considering putting off the zero tolerance smoking legislation until 2011, at least for Bars and Cafes.

Just a few days ago (April 15th) the health ministry indicated the government will present a law to congress to ban smoking in closed public places in June 2010..

Deep down there may be other political reasons for this [change]. Although the PP (Popular Party) are supporting the new bill, there is a Spanish election coming up in the next 12-months and this legislation could possibly lead to a loss of smoker’s votes for the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol--PSOE) plus there is pressure from both the hostelry industry and the tobacco companies to put this change off for a long as possible, due to fears of profit and job loses.

However, La Razon has emphasized that Jimenez still wants to push through the bill to ban smoking in all public spaces, with the exception of bars, who may be given another year before the legislation would cover their sector too.

In terms of revenue, the hostelry sector fear that the increase in IVA on July 1st coupled with a smoking ban, will scupper any chance for a revival in their fortunes this summer. Meanwhile, the Government are possibly also looking at loses from taxes on tobacco sales and the extra 1 percent from IVA that they could take in over the holiday season.

Unfortunately, better health through cutting down on passive smoking may be placed below revenue generation, as the PSOE look for any solution to raise revenue, and further taxes on the smoking industry, may seem to be a simple way of doing it! Local market research would also confirm that the majority of Spain’s smokers do not seem at all surprised that the legislation may not come into force this summer. It remains to be seen if Minister for Health, Trinidad Jimenez will make an announcement in the coming weeks, about this confusing and uncertain situation.

Reference: Smoking ban could be delayed until 2011, by Keith Nichol, EuroWeeklyNews, 4/16/2010.

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