Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain
in the Autumn for a month or so

'Fair and softly goes far' - Miguel de Cervantes

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Murcia bans smoking in many bars and public venues

The Boletín Oficial de la Región de Murcia published yesterday included details of new regulations passed last week in Murcia which will prohibit smoking in many bars throughout the Murcia region. The prohibition affects bars which exceed 100 sq m, of which there are thought to be about 200. Murcia is to employ 90 inspectors to enforce the new regulations. See an English-language report here. The ban will also affect a number of other public spaces, for example banquetting halls used for weddings and other functions.

As one of the articles already linked to points out, however, the investment required of bar and restaurant owners to comply with these regulations, to create separate smoking and non-smoking zones, may be considered wasted if in due course the European Union acts to prohibit smoking in all enclosed public spaces and in the light of this the trade association of Murcia restaurants wonders whether it would be more sensible simply to ban smoking now in bars to avoid the expense.

Full disclosure: although I have never smoked, I am not a 'militant' anti-smoker, even though it is a habit which disgusts me; I believe in liberty. On the other hand, I must admit that since smoking in all enclosed public spaces was banned in Scotland a few years ago (and more recently in England and Wales), going into bars or restaurants has become more pleasurable for me because I no longer feel obliged to launder all my clothing, and have a shower myself, after having spent any length of time in such establishments. The downside has been the rather sad spectacle of groups of people huddling together outside public enclosed spaces, often in the cold, all busily puffing away. It will be interesting to observe how well these new regulations are accepted by ordinary Murcianos, many of whom I have observed seem to be quite heavy smokers. I haven't yet seen mentioned what sanctions, financial or other, will be available to punish those who don't comply.

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