By Jason Moore

THE bar where I have coffee in the morning is now unusually quiet which is rather strange considering it is right infront of the main police station and in the centre of Palma. It is the same story at the bar next door. The reason, the owner tells me, is the new smoking ban. His former customers are no longer leaving their offices to go out and have a coffee and a smoke.

Now, on health grounds it is an extremely good state of affairs but commercially it could be the end for many bars in Palma. Sitting in an empty bar yesterday got me thinking that perhaps the government could have introduced the smoking ban more slowly giving bars and restaurants time to adapt. There are still 10 million smokers in Spain.

The fact that the ban was introduced during one of the worst recessions in Spanish history was rather short-sighted to say the least. While the bar and restaurant associations are going to paint a picture of real gloom to try and push for a possible amnesty period I suspect they are not wrong when they say that thousands of their members are facing ruin. I would at least allow restaurants to have a closed smoking area because otherwise this winter is going to be exceptionally tough for all bars and restaurants in Spain.

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