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« Europe: the bigger picture | Main | CIU joins Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign »

Smoking bans and the Spanish inquisition

Do bans make people smoke less? asked the Irish Times on Saturday. Rare for an Irish newspaper to discuss the smoking ban and rarer still to see comments from opponents of the ban in any Irish publication. Features a quote from John Mallon, spokesman for Forest Eireann.

The article was prompted by the recent smoking ban in Spain:

The Spanish measures, which are the country’s second attempt at a ban, are far more stringent than those introduced here in 2004, when Ireland became the first EU country to implement the policy.

Since last Sunday, smoking in Spain – the fourth largest tobacco manufacturer in the EU – is outlawed not only in places such as restaurants, bars and airports but also outside schools, hospitals and in children’s playgrounds.

The fines for breaking the ban range from €60 to €600,000. It remains to be seen whether the fuming Spaniards will flout the new laws, but both Irish experience and recent research suggest the extreme nature of the ban makes compliance even more likely.

As it happens we have in our midst an unrepentant smoker who has been working in the Spanish tourism industry for a number of years.

"I knew about the proposed ban last year," writes Peter Thurgood, "but to be perfectly honest I never thought it would really happen. I feel so let down I will never again recommend Spain as a holiday destination to anyone until they overturn it."

Peter feels so strongly he has written a 1500-word article for The Free Society. Click HERE.

See also: Smoke-free? It's a Spanish imposition! (Daily Mail), Spanish Bars Flout the Ban (Time) and Spanish smokers struggle with new ban (Daily Telegraph)

Reader Comments (20)

The Irish Times article is quite revealing. The author seems to be trying to tread a path through the correct politics, the propaganda, and the facts.

Look at the graph. The first impression is of a steep decline. But, look more carefully and one sees that the graph represents only the very top of a graph which ought to fill the page from top to bottom. Nor is the source of the graph revealed - probably one concocted by the Times itself, I suppose. Note that 'The Tobacco Control Office' has far the greatest decline - well, they would, wouldn't they? I wonder what the source of their figures is? The article says: 'using info obtained by phone'.....?! No mention made of the huge smuggling operations which must be going on.

Dr Maurer of ASH has sympathy for smokers - not for being ostracised, but for being forced to be addicted by the Tobacco Co's.

And yet there are little signs - doubts about SHS are creeping in. Bets are being edged.

January 11, 2011 at 19:27 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

I have heard from two sources that the Irish have changed the methodology on collecting data, hence the decline. However I am trying to find out what has changed.

January 11, 2011 at 23:14 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

I think that there is an error in your post. I think that the 600,000 euros should be 60,000. I saw these figures translated into dollars somewhere - $40 and $40,000.

600 000 signatures to a petition! This brought an idea to my mind....what if the CIU circulated a petition around its clubs (in for a penny, in for a pound)? It could be broken into two parts - staff and customers. It would be particularly useful if thousands of staff members stated that they were not the least bit worried about SHS (evidence freely given). Just a thought.

".....but both Irish experience and recent research suggest the extreme nature of the ban makes compliance even more likely".

Erm.....No..........The extreme nature of the FINES makes compliance more likely. But I think that the bar owners will stick together. They will rally round - unlike the case with Nick Hogan is this country.

January 11, 2011 at 23:37 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Time magazine (Jan 11) reports that fines in Spain range "from $40 for individuals to as much as $13,000 for establishments that flout the law". The figure of 600,000 euros has been reported by the Irish Times (Jan 8), the Daily Telegraph (Jan 5) and many other news outlets. The Daily Mail, for example, reported that "The law stipulates that a minor infringement should be penalised with fines from 30 euro (£25) to 600 euro (£514) while very serious breaches will attract fines from 10,000 euro £851,000) to 600,000 euro (£514,000)".

January 12, 2011 at 0:23 | Registered CommenterSimon Clark

As ever, Peter Thurgood is complaining about everyone and everything.

But the Spanish people seem to be standing up against "this absurd law". Which is something Thurgood doesn't seem to have noticed at all.

But will probably be complaining about soon.

January 12, 2011 at 3:34 | Unregistered CommenterFrank Davis


I stand corrected, but I am glad that you cleared the matter up!

January 12, 2011 at 3:56 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

If you had taken the trouble, Mr Davis, to read to the end of my article, you would have noted that I said: "I will be going back there because I want to see what is happening for myself as I have heard that there are groups of people, bar owners and restaurateurs, rebelling against the new smoking ban"

But This seems to be something Davis doesn't seem to have noticed at all, to quote his own phrase.

January 12, 2011 at 9:45 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

I wonder how this will affect people who have already booked holidays to Spain this year because it had been one of the last bastions of civilisation?

We are going to Majorca in March and would be arranging a second trip for later in the year on our return. This will all depend now on how we are affected. On our arrival at our hotel we usually greet the bar staff and have a celebratory drink and smoke at the bar to toast our brief respite back to a civilised and fair minded country!

Wonder what we will do this time?

January 12, 2011 at 9:45 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

The Irish Times piece is good. The Dail and Irish Cancer Society state that smoking prevalence has increased to 29%. Eurostat figures state 31% i.e. a complete failure. ASH, however, say that their phone survey has shown it reducing to 25%!

Who to believe, I wonder.

January 12, 2011 at 10:37 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Why did ASH feel the need to conduct its own phone survey and doesn't Ireland have a GOV Statistical Office?
"Feeling stongly" never changed anything. Simon, Forest always seems to feel strongly, then shrugs its shoulders and politely objects to the inevitable next gross infringement of our freedoms. Are you hamstrung by being funded by the tobacco industry? Probably for legal reasons I don't understand, I''ve heard nothing from them for years. Two summers have passed since I first suggested the printing of business card sized cards, giving links to relevant websites, such as Chris Snowdon's; these cards to be given to smokers sitting at tables outside pubs and cafes. By now this information would have reached millions of people. Is this a problem for the tobacco industry.? Are they somehow legally bound not to argue that passive smoking is not as harmful as claimed? if so, perhaps you should investigate other sources of funding? If not, then admit you are not seriously attempting to have the smoking ban overturned, and leave the way more open for other organisations. At present, Forest is the one whose opinion is sought. And, incredibly after years, you still haven't managed to stop the Press describing you as the "Pro smoking group". What a gift to ASH.

January 12, 2011 at 12:05 | Unregistered Commenterjon

Frank, the last ones I would believe, be it about smoking, climate change, or any other 'issue of the times' would be those promoting it.

I was just having this discussion with mum-in-law and we were saying how these 'interested parties' seem to dramatise and over exagerate everything they say, obviously because the true facts do not warrant their extreme demands!

January 12, 2011 at 12:47 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

Interesting that the primary question in the article is: "Do bans MAKE people smoke less ?" And then, of course, we have all the usual statistical to-and-fro.

But, surely, the Primary Question should be what it should always have been: by what RIGHT do governments seek to 'MAKE' people do anything that is not illegal ?

It demonstrates just how succesful the conditioning has been: as with Anthropogenic Global Warming ('The Science Is Settled'), so with the Smoking Ban ('The Philosophy Is Settled'). Making ANY concessions to Fanatics is lazy, and very, very dangerous.

January 12, 2011 at 13:20 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Lyn: ASH will carry on regardless of what twits they look. They've plenty of experience of living in twitdom over 50 years. It's nothing new to them. The problem with us is that the All party Committee seem to regard their words as those of a Prophet. I suppose if you staff the committee with vehement anti smokers, that's what we'll get.

January 12, 2011 at 13:32 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Absolutely right, Frank. That Select Committee is stuffed full of zealots.

January 12, 2011 at 17:28 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

We usually go to Lanzarote in March/April to get some early and much needed sunshine. Daytime temperatures are fine but evenings can be chilly and not condusive to being outside - either for eating or drinking ! I was made aware of the intention to relaunch of the ban by a bar owner in Lanzarote last year, thus - for the first time in 8 years - we have elected NOT to go to Spain, and Egypt is now the destination of choice.

When defending the proposed ban, even before the worst of its financial woes hit, some Spanish Minister declared that there was 'no evidence' that a ban would have any negative effects on the economy or tourism. (Where have we heard that before ?!)

I am looking for the appropriate email address for the Spanish Department of Commerce, and of Tourism and leisure, just to let them know they are already down by a couple of thousand euros from the no-show Barber family..... may I suggest that anyone similarly disuaded to head for Spain in light of the ban do the same ?

January 12, 2011 at 18:07 | Unregistered Commenterdunhillbabe

I posted a comment on Twitter the other day regarding the Spanish Smoking ban, and this morning received a reply from someone in Spain, who has a website called "Pintxos Boy".

Pintxos Boy has given his thoughts about the ban on his site, which at first I thought were aligned to ours here, but I am sorry to say that at the end of his article, he ends with saying:

"So, Sr Zapatero, even though you botched the first law, thanks, gracias and eskerrik asko from all the pintxos, bollos and banderillas in Donostia. Award yourself a fag for a good job done. In the privacy of the moncloa, obviously"

Have a look at his site
you can leave a comment on there, as I have.

January 13, 2011 at 10:59 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Thanks for your comments, I´ve enjoyed reading your articles and this site. I´ve posted a response on my site to your comments. You can see it here:

By the way, my tweet wasn't a response or reply to anythng you wrote, it was just a tweet.

January 13, 2011 at 22:37 | Unregistered CommenterPintxo Boy

Thurgood's lamentations over Spain sound almost word-for-word like mine over Ireland when the ban first came in there. Only I blamed not an invasion of Brits, but Americans, insisting on their own puritanical standards for everybody else, etc.

January 14, 2011 at 16:46 | Unregistered Commenterchris

I am a non smoker so the ban was something I really backed. From our club point of view, we wont notice any difference except health improvements. The club has two types of goers. The first, smokers, they are not happy but lets face it its not that cold outside and it has its own little socal circle now. The second, non smokers, they are extatic as are we and they are the ones with all the benefit. Now we have had some smokers getting really angry and they are saying things like what if we stop coming and you go under. Well what about the new people that now come into the club because its not smoky they just fill your gap. Thats the thing about this smokers can still do it outside, holiday makers that smoke can still sit in the sun and smoke and people who dont like it can go somewhere else (actually they cant) so in summary we have noticed no change apart from all the benefits.

March 7, 2011 at 11:29 | Unregistered Commentermallorcaclubowner

Well, Mallorcaclubowner, we holiday in Calla Millor twice a year and we buy all our tobacco products there too. The area, if you know it, is a magnate for the German holidaymakers, however, in 2011 we noticed a large number of VERY irrate German smokers who vowed never to return.

This year we went in April and to our surprise the hotel, which is normally full at that time with Germans was half empty, so maybe those who in 2011 vowed never to return, didn't!

We are going again next month and will see then if the hotel is full. It usually is as it is very popular, but then we expected that to be the case in April, too!

The one benefit we had was that, for once, we actually got a Junior Suite, usually not available due to the hotel being full and the suites going first to families, as they should. Oh, and we also had our pick of sunbeds!

Wonder how many other areas are seeing a decline in German tourists and how that is affecting the Spanish economy? This ban could be deadly to the economy of Spain, especially as they rely such a lot on tourism and I doubt there are enough non smokers who will fill the gaps!

September 9, 2012 at 12:43 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

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