Smoking ban to be extended to open spaces

Smoking in school playgrounds, children's play areas, hospital grounds and other open-air spaces will be prohibited, if proposals to reform Spain's 2004 anti-tobacco law come into effect.

The proposals which emerged from the debate in Congress on Tuesday vary from the ones that originally motivated the Socialist-led reform plan, which seeks to ban smoking in all enclosed areas of the hospitality industry.

The Popular Party, in support of hotel owners, wants to allow hotels of any size to be able to dedicate up to 30 percent of their space to smoking areas - a proposal which is more permissive than the current law.

As the draft reform stands, smoking will be banned in all enclosed public spaces, with the exception of designated areas in prisons, psychiatric hospitals and retirement homes. Smoking will be banned from all open spaces in education and health centers, although outdoor areas of university campuses will be exempted. Lighting up in stadiums will also be permitted, provided they are in the open air.

The new law is expected to be passed unanimously and come into force on January 2 next year, though it still has to pass through the Senate and a full vote in Congress.

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