Joan Collins
THE Spanish Ministry of Health is appealing to parents to protect their children from tobacco smoke.
In the middle of the controversy about catering establishments' compliance (or non compliance) with the “antitobacco law”, the Spanish Government is calling upon parents to choose bars and restaurants which do not allow smoking for the benefit of their children's health.

The Spanish Minister of Health, Elena Salgado, during the presentation of a campaign with this aim, criticised the bars and restaurants of more than 100 square metres which had not complied with the “antitobacco law” and did not have a space reserved exclusively for smokers.

In the context that on September 1 only 40 percent of leisure premises had had work done to separate the smoking and non smoking areas, the Ministry of Health is launching a campaign with the title “Choose non smoking places. For those you love most”, which reminds people that tobacco smoke is very damaging for children and if they are taken into a smoking area, they are being obliged to smoke.

It is via this indirect route that the Government hopes to achieve compliance with the controversial “antitobacco law” which came into force at the beginning of the year. It is also hoping that the number of non smoking places will increase in the catering sector, something that has scarcely been achieved.

The Minister of Health blames this situation, in part, on the decrees approved by some autonomous regions (mainly those governed by the Partido Popular) which go against the national law. “Autonomous regions will not be allowed to counteract the law and make it more flexible”, said the Minister, who said that the Government had lodged an appeal against the decree approved in the Valencia region and had also formally requested the region of Castilla and Leon to change certain of their articles.

In any case, she said that there is no lack of rules and regulations to make sure this law is complied with and that the autonomous regions are obliged to ensure that this is done. As for the owners of the establishments, she said that they have had enough time to do the required work and if they haven't done this, it is because “they didn't want to” and because of this their premises will be considered non smoking places.

Continuing on this subject she called upon all citizens to complain about places which have not complied with the law, and upon parents to save their children from breathing in smoke.

According to the estimates of the European Institute for Investigation of Cancer in Spain 1'500 people died in 2002 from cancer caused by tobacco smoke.

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