By Humphrey Carter
FIRST it was a crackdown on smoking, then it was the siesta and now it is going to be alcohol in Spain.
The Spanish government, which introduced its new strict smoking restrictions on Sunday, now hopes to follow up its tough anti-smoking law with one similar on alcohol. The Spanish Minister for Health, Elena Salgado, said this week that the government is dealing with smoking and drugs and now has to set about trying to “achieve a similar consensus against alcohol similar to that achieved regarding tobacco.” Salgado said that her ministry is now going to carry out similar studies into the affects of alcohol on health as it did with smoking.
Alcohol is still one of the main causes of Spain's high death toll on the roads while also, according to experts, alcohol abuse causes 13'000 deaths per year. “Alcohol is a different problem from tobacco. “We have a serious task ahead for which we will seek a lot of opinion to draw up a law that will be heeded and which society accepts and considers balanced,” the minister said. The government is already looking at other European laws such as Sweden's where people under 20 can neither enter the special off-licences nor bars.
Primarily, new anti-alcohol laws will be aimed at the younger generations but any new law with go much further than merely stamping out the infamous “botellon” drinking in large groups in public places and advertising. Distribution and the sale of alcohol could also be heavily restricted and controlled.
Spain is the seventh largest consumer of alcohol in the world and the minister wants to create new social attitudes towards alcohol.
Any such move would totally contradict the new 24 hour drinking laws introduced in Britain by a government which wanted to create a “more continental drinking culture.” The continentals appear to be doing the exact opposite.

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