STAFF REPORTER PALMA

AFTER 1'625 inspections during the first month of the total smoking ban, Public Health Director Margalida Buades reported yesterday that the Balearic public and the hostelry industry in the Islands has responded “magnificently” in its efforts to adhere to the new legislation.

Buades said that the region has reacted very “positively” to the challenges of a new smokeless era and claimed that the bylaws were securing widespread social acceptance as “the norm.” She said that of the total number of inspections, the vast majority of which were carried out on Majorca, 57 percent confirmed there were no irregularities at all on the premises under scrutiny but 41 percent had registered certain difficulties with adequate public notification about the ban. These included signs in bars, cafeterias, discothèques and restaurants about the acceptance of the so-called smokeless “electronic cigarette” (pictured.)
Also in need of correction on some premises, said Buades was the use and management of cigarette vending machines, but she added said that in only 2 percent of cases had there been evidence of people smoking in closed public spaces.

The Public Health department, she continued, had been notified of just 22 cases where people had complained officially about the new ban having been flouted in certain establishments.

Buades explained that after the department was made aware of irregularities, the premises in question were given a limited period of time in which to comply with the law and that ongoing follow-up inspections would be put in place.

Buades' report confirmed that around 70 percent of official complaints related to failure to adhere to the terms and conditions of the ban in bars, cafeterias and restaurants whilst a lesser percentage referred to infractions in the workplace, on public transports, children's parks and commercial centres.

The Director said that the hostelry trade and other employers had been anxious to conform correctly with the new legislation and that as a result the regional Ministry for Health had responded to 195 queries over details of the ban which was introduced at the beginning of last month. The majority of questions apparently related to how external terraces should be managed for use by smokers, what posters and notification should be put up, what is - and is not - permitted with regard to the creation of “smokers' clubs”, and whether smoking is allowed in locations specifically set aside for the purpose, such as in hotels.

Buades pointed out that the total smoking ban has in fact simply reinforced already-existing legislation and that the most recent emphasis has been on the protection of workers in the hostelry industry who may be exposed to smoke contamination, something which had not been part of previous law.

The Director said that it is quite “normal” that when a new fully restrictive law, such as this most recent ban is enforced, that there will be “anomalies” and that a period of adjustment needs to be allowed. She said that the hostelry industry had had to get similarly accustomed when the government last introduced an anti-smoking law back in 2005.

Buades said that smoking is the cause of 53'000 deaths in Spain per year of which there are around 1'300 in the Balearics. She added that 16 percent of deaths in people over 35 are related to smoking.