STAFF REPORTER

MADRID
CENTRAL Government will be banning smoking completely in closed public spaces, leisure centres, bars and restaurants from the beginning of next year, the ministry for Health and Social Policy said yesterday.

Minister Trinidad Jimenez pointed out that the move comes with wide public approval and agreement between all political parties, and non-governmental organisations such as consumer groups. She explained that the problem was not that people smoked in public but that they smoked in closed spaces. So, for example, smoking on bar terraces and pavements outside cafés is not prohibited, or for that matter, at the bull ring.

Jimenez claimed that the backing for the new law is based on the understanding that legislation is being taken to protect people's health. “We're culturally at a stage where society is prepared to accept such a law, and we are now just in the process of putting the finishing touches to the Bill before it goes to Parliament,” she said.

Meanwhile the Spanish hostelry industry is having to face the fact that the tightening of smoking laws could lose it 30'000 million euros next year. Jose Luis Guerra, the President of the Spanish Hostelry Federation, said that so far as small to medium-sized businesses are concerned, the new legislation could sound a death knell.

Guerra confirmed that the small bar, café and restaurant sector had lost a fifth of its business as a result of the recession and that a further 10 percent is expected to go next year following the introduction of smoking bans in all closed public places.

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