OWNERS of bars, restaurants and cafeterias on Majorca will be shutting their doors at 6pm on 18th April and joining a demonstration against the economic damage that has been done to the food and drink industry by the total smoking ban introduced at the start of the year, the Balearic Business Federation (CAEB) confirmed yesterday.

The industrial lockout, of which warning has already been given by both the Business Federation and the hostelry sector of the Majorcan small to medium-sized businesses association (PIMEM), will be timed to coincide with the demonstration. Hence businesses will be closed for several hours.

Sources at both CAEB and PIMEM, led by Presidents Pilar Carbonell and Juan Cabrera respectively, said that the demonstration will leave from Plaça Major in Palma and would wend its way through the centre of the city until it reaches Central Government's delegation offices.

Neither association saw fit to call another General Assembly of its members to approve industrial action and organisers have been content with emailing the dates of protests and their routes to unions, local authorities and other industry representatives.

General Secretaries of both groups have also been busy providing the media with up-to-date information on the demonstration and pinning up activist pamphlets in bars, cafés and restaurants around the island to encourage participation.

CAEB and PIMEM are acutely aware of how much their members in the hostelry trade are suffering as a result of the economic crisis and were of the opinion that a prolonged lockout was not in the interests of proprietors. The Balearic Hoteliers Federation had accurately foreseen how a total smoking ban would further erode the hostelry industry, struggling to survive the recession.

Senior members of the Federation had even taken part in demonstrations in Madrid against Central Government's plans to introduce a total ban, claiming that a partial ban as already witnessed in other parts of Europe would be more appropriate to the tourist industry..

But the Health ministry ignored the protests and introduced the ban. It also ignored proprietors' claims that they should be compensated for the work they had paid for out of their own pockets to separate smokers from non-smokers on their premises, in order to comply with earlier legislation.

The Balearic hostelry industry believes that the ban has sounded the death knell for many smaller traders.