THE Balearic health minister Aina Castillo has stepped down and said that the national anti-tobacco law, which came into force at the beginning of the year now will prevail over the Balearic one, introduced last year, even though it will be “a step backwards”, especially wen it comes to bars and restaurants of more than 100 square metres. But she called on the central government to provide funds to help these firms carry out the necessary reforms. Earlier this year, the Balearic government had said that its law, which was more restrictive, would prevail. Under the state law, bars and restaurants of less than 100 square metres can choose whether or not smoking is allowed, which she said, contradicts the Balearic law which obliged them to have a smokefree zone. In the meantime, local tobacconists have launched a boycott of Philip Morris brands in protest at the price reduction, and news stand owners are still studying whether or not to organise a protest against the ban on selling cigarrettes. These protests have already been carried out in other parts of Spain. According to José Tirado, spokesman of the federation of commerce, leisure and restaurants, up to 1'500 local firms could go out of business at the end of the tourist season if the ban on cigarette sales is ,aomtaomed- He added that hundreds of small establishments such as news stands, liquor stores and supermarkets survive thanks to the profts generated by the sale of cigarettes. He pointed out that British and German tourists bought a lot of tobacco here as prices in their home countries were much higher. He estimated that a news stand could lose between 18'000 and 24'000 euros because of the ban on tobacco sales. Losses in Magalluf alone were put at between 30 and 40 milion euros in a year.