THE Balearic government is to bring in a law which will mean that non-smoking areas will be established in bars and restaurants and other public places.
Through the introduction of legislation on the use of drugs, currently at draft Bill stage, regional authorities will force owners and controllers of public places to set aside areas where non-smokers can remain comparatively free from fumes.
The draft motion, which was presented at a Balearic government cabinet meeting on Friday by the Health minister, Aina Castillo, makes no mention however, of the imbibing of alcohol.
The ministry of Health has now finished preparing legislation governing the use of drugs. The plan is to have the paperwork approved at the beginning of June and then to have it presented to Parliament.
One of the most important measures will be that the legislation will allow for the rights of non-smokers in public places to be guaranteed. Proprietors, or controllers of such places, will be obliged by law to allocate spaces to accommodate non-smokers.
The law will furthermore prohibit smoking in public centres which fall under the jurisdiction of the Balearic government (offices, meeting halls, conference centres, etcetera). In addition, publicity for tobacco will be banned in areas adjacent to schools and colleges.
The new legislation, however, will not seek to control the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages. In fact, the government has scheduled the approval of a separate bill governing this issue.
Aina Castillo, regional Health minister, explained the basic principles behind the scheduled Bill to other government figures, but declined to give further details of the new legislative text.
Minister Castillo had already announced a month ago that she would take into account all implicated sectors when it came to fine-tuning the wording of the new law on drugs.
Following speculation on failure to include the issue of alcohol in the draft Bill, the Health minister stated it took the view that from a legal standpoint, alcoholic drinks do not have to be treated in the same manner as other drugs.
Although Castillo's department is aware of the risks of the excessive consumption of alcohol, the Health ministry believes that abuse in this area needs to be dealt with through separate legislation from that of recognised drugs.
Legal aspects related to control of alcoholic drinks will be dealt with in another law, which could be approved later this year by the Balearic government.
The prime objective of this later legislation will be to determine what type of publicity should be permitted in the case of the sale of alcoholic drinks in the Balearics. The issue has become particularly sensitive in the face of widespread coverage of the incidence of excessive drinking amongst young people.
Aina Castillo took advantage of the Cabinet meeting to further promote the separation of these two controversial topics into two different draft Bills.
The minister pointed out that latest medical evidence suggests that moderate consumption of alcohol is not necessarily harmful for the body. In fact, the World Health Organisation accepts that controlled consumption of wine is a positive factor for the cardiovascular system.
The present Health ministry is now at a legislative crossroads because the previous law governing the use of drugs in the Balearics, which was approved by the last government under a Socialist coalition, did not in fact reach the debating chamber of Parliament during their term of office.
The Bill at that stage was surrounded by controversy because the text of the proposed legislation included alcohol, and more specifically, wine.
Aina Salom, predecessor to Aina Castillo, had argued in defence of this inclusion of alcohol, by saying that some other regions of Spain had also included wine as a substance to be listed under regional legislation on drug control.
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