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Countdown to a smoke-free Spain

Source: The Associated Press - Wed 22th Dec 2010

Spain's smokey bars and cafes are soon to be a thing of the past after lswyers and politicians finally approved tough new anti-smoking measures.

The proposal = introduced by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and his governing Socialist Party, was carried in a 189 to 154 vote that also rejected the Senate's recommendation to permit casinos to have smoking areas.

Effective from January 2nd, the inside space of all bars and restaurants will be no-smoking zones, bringing Spain in line with the EU's strictest anti-smoking nations and many U.S. states that ban smoking in enclosed public places.

The law will make Spain a tougher place to smoke than other EU countries where bars and restaurants are still permitted to have smoking areas. It will also prohibit smoking in certain outdoor places such as playgrounds and the grounds of schools and hospitals.

Spain's previous anti-smoking law of 2006, aimed at reducing smoking and smoking-related deaths. It also prohibited smoking in the workplace, which resulted in workers seen puffing away outside their offices being a common sight. Critics branded this law a failure because it allowed most bar and cafe owners the decision of whether to allow smoking or not, and almost all permitted it fearing a backlash from their customers.

Bar and cafe owners no longer have this right to decide, and larger establishments that had provided separate smoking areas sections will now have to remove them. Officials predict the thousands of lives that would have been lost to secondhand smoke will now be saved.

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