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Fighting big tobacco in Spain

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c6462 (Published 15 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6462
  1. Aser García Rada
  1. 1Madrid

As the Spanish parliament considers tighter restrictions on smoking, Aser García Rada explains why it has previously been difficult to get antismoking laws on the Spanish statute book

With a new law on tobacco control moving to the Spanish Senate next month, campaigners are preparing to defend it against any rearguard action by the tobacco industry in Spain to water down its terms.

The draft law, which could take effect in January, seeks to ban smoking in enclosed public places. A law passed in 2006 had the same purpose, but that legislation was so emasculated during its passage through parliament that 90% of Spain’s bars and restaurants have continued to allow smoking. It stipulated that hoteliers, restaurateurs, and bar owners could themselves decide whether or not to allow smoking on their premises, if they were under 100 square metres in area (the few larger premises had to ban smoking or provide a separate smoking area)—and the majority opted to allow it. The law has become known as “the Spanish model” and is promoted heavily by the tobacco industry.

Now antismoking campaigners are doing their best to ensure that the new law is not similarly weakened in its last stages by the scare tactics of the hospitality industry, which claims that a ban threatens jobs and the economy.

The campaigners are up against strong opponents. The tobacco industry has long been interested in Spain. Looking at the documents that became public in 1998 as a result of a settlement between four US tobacco companies and the attorneys general of 46 …

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