With the seat, comes power and Trinidad Jiménez, the Spanish health minister, intends to take full advantage of Spain’s position with their imminent presidency of the European Union, by modifying the nation’s current legislation and enforcing stricter smoking measures. Spain will take the presidential seat on 1st January 2010.
Where one can smoke has been somewhat of a grey area these past few years in Spain, with apparently four out of every five establishments at the moment, still allowing smoking on the premises. The minister has every intention of clearing this matter up.
Laws currently allow bars and restaurants, which have a space of less that 100 square metres, to make their own decision on whether or not they will permit smoking on the premises. As stated above, four out five bars allow their customers to do so.
Utilising statistics available to her, she was reported to have said that 75% of the population over the age of 16 do not smoke. With this in mind, Jiménez made a recent announcement that she intends to work towards extending the smoking ban to all public places.
In addition, the European Commission has already put forward a proposal to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants across each of the EU countries by 2012. Spain’s relaxed attitude therefore, will at that point no longer be acceptable.
According to sources, the health minister recently spoke at a health conference on “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”, stating “80% of those who suffer the disease had been smokers during their lives. The fatality rate for COPD in Spain is given at more than 17,500 people every year.”
She interjected that by the year 2020, smoking will have become the 4th most common cause of death in the world. A sobering thought.