Spain Greets New Year with Smoking Ban

This new year, Spain joins countries including the UK, France and Italy in banning smoking in all enclosed public places including bars, restaurants and hotel rooms.

The law, which went into effect on January 2, is one of the toughest in Western Europe, according to CNN.

The new law takes Spain's former anti-smoking law, in place since 2006, to a whole new level. The previous law banned smoking in the workplace, on public transport and in shops, but left it up to restaurants whether to allow smoking or not. With fierce competition, most allowed it.

The new law also bans smoking in children's parks or anywhere on school or hospital grounds. Hotel owners have a little more leeway, with permission to reserve 30% of their guest rooms for smokers, if the proprietor wishes, reported the Guardian.

Jose Luis Guerra, vice president of the Spanish Hotel and Catering Association, said the ban could lead to a 5% drop in sales in restaurants, 10 % in bars and 15 % in night clubs, on top of the beating the industry has already taken in the past 31 months because of the economic crisis.

The government, however, says similar laws elsewhere in Europe did not hurt business in the long run.

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