Spanish catering industry furious about smoking bans on terraces

by Lorraine Williamson
smoking bans on terraces

MADRID – The new ambitious smoking law of the Ministry of Health, which bans smoking on terraces, among other things, has been well received by health experts. However, hospitality entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are furious. 

The plan is also to ban smoking in cars and raise the price of tobacco. “Unbelievable and unfortunate. They demonise us again,” says José Luis Yzuel, president of the Spanish Catering Association. About the smoking ban on terraces, he says: “It is not defensible. They put us in front of our customers when there’s no problem at the moment,” says Yzuel. He explains when someone lights a cigarette on a terrace and another customer complains, one of them simply “changes places. And then there’s no problem.” 

Pulmonologists positive 

On the other hand, the Public Health proposal has been well received by pulmonologists. Indeed, it includes a large part of their claims regarding tobacco bans in open spaces, such as terraces, beaches, sports stadiums, and parks. 

The draft of the so-called Comprehensive Plan for the Prevention and Control of Smoking 2021-2025 also foresees a ban on smoking in private cars. In addition, the generic packaging of branded tobacco, the increase in the price of packaging that increases taxes, and the legal restrictions on electronic devices. cigarettes. 

Goal: less young people smoking

The aim is to reduce consumption as around 25% of the population smoke daily). Moreover, especially among young people, and to increase the number of smoke-free spaces “before 2023”. 

Smoke-free terraces already in seven regions 

Currently, there are seven autonomous communities (Aragón, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Canarias, Cantabria, Comunidad Valenciana and La Rioja) that have temporarily adopted the measure ‘Terrazas Sin Humo’ as a means of combating Covid-19. The future law would permanently extend this prohibition to all autonomous communities. 

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“Don’t Force Us” 

For hospitality entrepreneurs, the norm seems “unnecessary”, laments José Luisel, president of the Spanish hospitality sector, which represents 300,000 establishments. “They turn us against our customers,” says Yzuel. He adds; “a customer can’t smoke on a terrace, but if he’s sitting on a bench 1.5 metres away, he can? It’s stupid”. 

Yzuel thinks there are hospitality businesses that are voluntarily joining anti-tobacco campaigns and therefore don’t allow smoking on their terraces, “but that’s quite different from a ban in a general way”. The hotelier complains about the pressure from the anti-smoking movements and from scientific associations such as the Spanish Society of Pneumology, and believes that they ‘should not start with me’. “Nobody bothers smoking outside. It is good that they make companies and citizens aware, but don’t force them.” 

As an example, he cites that last week he was in a gastrobar in Malaga that forbids smoking on its terrace. “And I think it’s wonderful that companies decide freely, but without generalizing the ban.” 

Making tobacco more expensive, most effective 

The Spanish Society for Lung Surgery and Thoracic Surgery (Separ), without knowing the texts thoroughly, is positive. This is with regard to the smoking ban on the terraces. And, furthermore, for the packaging to not contain any form of advertising. As this “could attract a population as sensitive as adolescents”. Furthermore, in the price increase for tobacco products, they see one of the most effective measures to counter their consumption. 

Every day between 300-400 people die due to diseases related to smoking 

Carlos Rábade of the Spanish Society for Pulmonary Diseases and Thoracic Surgery (Separ) points out that between 300-400 people die every day from tobacco-related diseases in Spain. He also trusts that the standard includes public funding of help to smokers, for example, courses or resources to help with smoking cessation. Rábade also welcomes the ban on smoking in cars, because he believes it protects mainly children and adolescents. 

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