Spanish Fret Over Anti-Tobacco Law
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MADRID, Spain — It’s crunch time for many Spanish bars, restaurants and nightclubs, the hearths of national life: They must create sealed-off smoking areas or ban the butt altogether.
But a full 40% are sitting tight, waiting to see how a new anti-tobacco law will be implemented, an industry group said yesterday as the midnight deadline approached for watering holes to set up partitioned zones for smokers.
“Businesses are very worried. People are saying, ‘What should I do?'” the vice president of the Spanish Hospitality Association, Jose Luis Guerra, said. It represents an industry that did $105 billion in sales in 2004.
The law that went into effect January 1 made it illegal to smoke in office buildings, shopping malls, cultural centers and on public transportation, among other enclosed spaces.
The Spanish government says about 30% of its citizens smoke, and the habit is the biggest cause of death in the country: 50,000 Spaniards die from tobacco-related illnesses each year, along with 700 from second-hand smoke.