Bars and restaurants call for permission to set up smoking rooms

Bar owners want separate, ventilated areas for smokers
Bar owners want separate, ventilated areas for smokers

A year and a half on from the anti-tobacco law banning lighting up in public places, bars and restaurants are calling for smoking rooms to be allowed on their premises.

Spain’s president, Mariano Rajoy said during his electoral campaign that he was in favour of allowing catering establishments to set up separate, ventilated and sealed-off smoking zones, but health minister Ana Mató vetoed this from the start.

The issue has reared its head again amid plans for a casino city in either Barcelona or Madrid, known as Eurovegas.

But the anti-smoking law would mean far fewer customers, which prompted speculation that the rules may be changed.

Mató, however, has stated quite categorically that there is no chance of this happening.

Head of Spain’s hotel and catering federation, Emilio Gallego, says it is ‘a shame’ that for local traders’ voices to be heard, a multinational company had to speak up.

And were it not for Eurovegas, adds Gallego, the fact that numerous bars and cafés have gone out of business or lost thousands due to a sudden shortage in customers and in drinks ordered would continue to be ignored.

“A significant number – if not the majority – of bar customers smoke, and enjoy having a cigarette with their coffee or beer,” Gallego states.

“And this is now impossible in Spain, meaning losing even more points as a tourist destination.”

“I cannot see the problem with having separate smoking rooms in hotels, bars, cafés and restaurants – it’s no different to having baby changing rooms; those who don’t want to see it or be affected by it do not have to go in there.”

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