THREE cases of breaking the new anti-smoking laws have been confirmed in the Balearics, the regional Public Health department said yesterday.
Since the new total ban on smoking in enclosed public places (and in some open ones) came into force on 2nd January, the Balearic ministry for Health and Consumer affairs has been making a total of 103 spot checks and has come across 21 cases where the new law was not being applied correctly.
Most of these deficiencies, the ministry explained, were connected with signs indicating that smoking is banned or with cigarette packet dispensing machines, but the three cases where charges are to be brought were in incidents where people were found smoking in night clubs and bars.
Yesterday was the fourth day that the new law had been in force and the ministry was being besieged with enquiries, mostly from company directors, about how to equip their premises to meet with new legal requirements. Private individuals were also calling to ask about what areas of blocks of flats or other residential complexes were considered public places from which smoking should be banned.
Inspectors acting for the ministry said that despite the three cases of breaking the rules which have come to light, proprietors of bars, cafés, restaurants and nightclubs and their clients have been generally good humoured about the smoking ban and mindful about respecting it.
Public Health Director Margalida Buades said that last Monday, around 50 spot checks had been carried out around the Balearic Islands and there were no cases registered of people flouting the law.
This means that people are taking the total ban in their stride, Buades alleged.
Neither did the inspectors have to report any special incidents and confirmed to the ministry that no section of the community had been making their life difficult since the introduction of the new anti-smoking law.
However, the ministry has set up a monitoring committee designed to make sure that the Central Government law continues to be applied.
Meeting periodically, the committee will not only discuss incidents where the law has been found to be broken, but also whether the application of the law and its knock-on effects are producing unwarranted conflict, such as for staff in the hostelry industry who may feel pressurised into policing the premises to uphold the new ban. There may be some areas of the law which will need clarifying, said Buades.