Intended for healthcare professionals


Spain’s tougher line on smoking in public places spreads to other countries

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 28 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d617
  1. Aser García Rada
  1. 1Madrid

The new Spanish law on smoking in public places, which came into force on 2 January (BMJ 2010;341:c7429, doi:10.1136/bmj.c7429), is already having an effect on other countries’ laws, the World Health Organization has said.

Armando Peruga, programme manager of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said, “Spain changing the model and sending the message that it [a soft approach to smoking in public places] doesn’t work is a severe blow for the tobacco industry. The health minister of Chile has announced that they will follow the new Spanish model.”

Mr Peruga was speaking at a meeting in Madrid organised by the Spanish National Association of Health Journalists and the National Committee to Prevent Smoking on 25 January.

The new law in January brought to an end the “Spanish model” of permissive smoking legislation. In force since 2006, the previous law had numerous loopholes and meant that 90% of bars and restaurants continued to allow smoking, with the result that smoking was viewed by most as socially acceptable. The new law bans smoking in all indoor public places and also children’s playgrounds and areas outside hospitals and schools.

Mr Peruga said that other countries were planning to implement similarly tough legislation. The Greek government, which has been considering weakening its current law on smoking in public places, has also decided to keep strong restrictions in force after the passing of the law in Spain, he said.

The Spanish decision has had a “very important dynamic effect,” Mr Peruga told doctors and journalists. However, he warned that the “first lesson is that work has just begun,” and he encouraged the audience to “fight against the interests that will try to roll back this law.”

The tobacco industry in Spain has lobbied hard to prevent the introduction of tougher rules on smoking (BMJ 2010;341:c6462, 15 Nov, doi:10.1136/bmj.c6462), he said, and would continue to do so.

Mr Peruga said that there are currently 30 countries with smoke free legislations in public places and indoor workplaces and 20 others with broad restrictions on smoking.

“Those countries have shown major changes in health,” he said, with “a drastic and immediate decrease in cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and in tobacco consumption.”

In addition, “the incentive is transferred to households, where the prevalence of smoking also falls,” he said.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d617