Smokers abide by Spain's tough new tobacco laws

Establishments that flaunt the ban face incurring six-figure sanctions

The majority of smokers are abiding by the new anti-tobacco law, which came into force on Sunday. Spaniards were "reasonably" compliant with the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces, according to Dionisio Lara, of the Spanish Service Industry Federation, who reported that drinkers had shifted to outdoor tables en masse. Regulations forbidding smoking within 100 meters of health centers were less rigorously observed and smokers could be seen puffing away at the entrance to various Madrid hospitals.

Lara reported that drinkers had reacted with "surprise" and "confusion" when told to stop smoking by bar owners - who face hefty fines if they fail to enforce the ban. Others took advantage of being sent outside to leave without paying.

Smoking is even banned in some open-air spaces, like children's play areas
Long-term mental hospitals and prisons will be allowed to set up smoking areas
More information
New smoking ban is a bit of a drag for tobacco makers
Popular Party politician adds to litany of outspoken comments

The new anti-smoking law could be summed up as "banning smoking in all enclosed spaces that may be shared with others." But there are some exceptions: covered spaces in which smoke is permitted and open spaces where it is banned. Many of these exceptions were included in the 2006 smoking ban, but as this was largely ignored - or they have been better defined and clarified in the new law - here is an aide-mémoire.

In which enclosed spaces will smoking be permitted?

Only in rooms of hotels, hostels and similar establishments, which are set aside for this purpose and which must not make up more than 30 percent of the total. But smoking is only permitted inside the room, not in the corridors, lifts or lobbies.

And in psychiatric units and prisons?

In long-term psychiatric wards and prisons, smoking zones are allowed as these places qualify as the habitual home of the inmates. But smoking will not be allowed in cells.

How about in places that are just for adults, such as casinos and dance halls?

There is no smoking allowed, given that there are staff present.

What about people who work at smokers' clubs?

There will have to be changes for smokers' clubs, as they will not be able to employ anyone there. They will not be able to sell drinks either.

Can you smoke in your own office?

If you are in a company then no, because that is your workplace. If it could be considered part of your house, then yes. But not if you will have clients or other workers visiting the premises.

What about private parties, weddings or baptisms?

If the event is held in a public place (restaurant or hotel), smoking is forbidden, partly because there will be employees there.

What can I do if I go into a bar or club and there are people smoking?

First off, you can report them to the owner of the establishment, as they are responsible for observing the law. If they fail to act you can fill out a complaints form and report them to the corresponding department of consumer affairs - usually part of the Health Ministry. You can also report them to the municipal police.

From which open-air spaces is smoking banned?

Those that fall within an educational or health complex (playgrounds and courtyards, areas between wards), at the entrance of health centers and children's play areas.

And in my communal building?

Smoking will be banned from residents associations' venues and other communal spaces if they are enclosed (doorway, corridor) because they are considered places of collective use. But in the open-air spaces (gardens, swimming pools, sports facilities) smoking is permitted.

Without exception?

No. Children's play areas are the only public open-air places where you cannot smoke.

And on the beach?

It is allowed, although the civic-minded thing to do would be to not leave cigarette butts behind.

What about in stadiums and bullrings?

Smoking is allowed in open-air areas, not in the enclosed zones: ticket desk, passageways etc., or in covered areas.

Where does this leave airports?

Without the current smoking areas. Smokers can only light up outdoors.

And what about the open-air spaces on public transport?

The law makes a distinction here. Generally speaking, smoking is banned, except in the covered areas of boats. By contrast, smoking is banned on open-decked tourist buses, because this is classed as urban transport.

What will happen to me if I report a smoker?

Complaints are anonymous. If you know the culprit's name, you can pass on this information, safe in the knowledge that they will not be told who has reported them.

What happens to the person caught smoking in a prohibited space?

It's considered a minor infraction. If it's a one-off, they will be fined30 euros. If the offense is repeated three times then it is considered serious and the fine will be between 601 and 100,000 euros.

And the bar owner who lets people smoke?

This is a serious offense straight off. The fine ranges between 601 and 100,000 euros.

A woman smoking outside an establishment in Burgos after the new ban  was introduced.
A woman smoking outside an establishment in Burgos after the new ban was introduced.AFP
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS