BARELY a month after her first wedding anniversary, Inditex heiress Marta Ortega is said to be expecting her second child with new husband Carlos Torretta. According to magazine, Marta, 35, is pregnant with her and...
Spain still lighting up despite new tobacco laws
By thinkSPAIN Team Tue, Apr 18, 2006
Although Spain banned smoking in workplaces and public buildings more than four months ago, the nation appears to remain as addicted to its old habits as it ever was.
The ban, which came into force on January 1, 2006, has made few inroads into the tobacco culture that still holds Spain in its grip. A price war between tobacco manufacturers and the government has only served to highlight the grasp that the trade has not only on the country but its economy.
In other European countries where tobacco has been prohibited, the bars and restaurants are smoke-free with not an ashtray in sight. But you will find very few bars in Spain where the non-smoking rule is in force. This is not because of a general lawlessness but more an adherence to the letter of the loosely-drafted law that has more holes than a filter tip. Bars and restaurants that have a floor area of under a 100 square metres can choose whether to allow customers to smoke. Most have chosen to allow it, placing signs that proclaim Se Permite Fumar (It is permitted to smoke) on the door. Bars with a bigger floor area must have a specially set-aside smoking area. The overwhelming majority of small bars (and that means most bars in Spain) have elected to remain smoking areas, which has driven a huge road through the government’s pledge to cut the number of smokers in the country. In tourist areas you will frequently find that the foreign owned bars have embraced the no-smoking policy whilst their Spanish counterparts remain intransigent. However, Spain's health minister has threatened that if enough bars and other small establishments don't elect to be smoke free within a year - and the number of smokers nationwide doesn't drop significantly - further restrictions on smoking will follow.
To understand the reluctance of the Spanish to embrace the new law it helps to look at the country’s long relationship with tobacco. First brought to Spain from Cuba 500 years ago, tobacco has long been as popular as it has been cheap. Two Spanish explorers, Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres are claimed to be the first Europeans to try tobacco after seeing native Cubans wrap dried tobacco leaves in palms and light one end. Jerez became a confirmed smoker whilst on his travels but on his return home so scared his neighbours by blowing smoke from his nose and mouth that he was arrested by the Spanish Inquisition and imprisoned for seven years. Ironically by the time he was released smoking had become a Spanish craze.
Spain’s supremacy in its colony Cuba led in turn to its domination of the tobacco market where commercial competitiveness soon took off. In 1606, in an attempt to keep Spain at the head of tobacco production, King Philip III decreed that tobacco could only be grown in certain Spanish colonies, including Cuba and Venezuela. King Philip also decreed that any tobacco production by foreigners would be punishable by death. Eight years later he decreed that all tobacco produced in the Spanish New World should be shipped to Seville, which then became the world centre for the production of cigars.
Whilst there is much argument as to the source of the first cigarette, many historians agree that it was probably invented in Spain. It is thought that paupers in Seville were making a form of cigarette, known as a 'papalette', from the butts of discarded cigars and papers as early as the seventeenth century. These crude cigarettes were taken by Spanish and Portuguese sailors on their travels round the world. Although the plantations in Virginia soon became the dominant markets, Spain remained a firmly tobacco orientated country as it still does.
Before the new ban cigarette smoking was pretty much allowed and tolerated everywhere: banks, shops, offices, factories, warehouses, canteens, trains, buses, on TV…there were very few places where you would be frowned upon if you lit up. S
More Health/Beauty/Fashion content
TWO of Spain's best-known clothing designers showcased their spring-summer 2020 collections yesterday (Monday) at Paris Fashion Week – Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada presented her trademark loud colours on surprisingly...
A 'SMART clothing' creator with an annual turnover of €600,000 is seeking sponsorship to expand the business after having invented a collection which does not crease and which repels dirt. Sepiia, a label...
POPULAR high-street fashion store Massimo Dutti has opened its first branch in Ibiza – one of the few districts in Spain where it was not already present. The mid-upper end brand, famous for its demure classics,...