We felt like kings! Like we had finally been allowed to enter a private club that, for years, had refused us entry. And the air inside the little café that Jan, the kids, and I went to this afternoon smelled particularly sweet as we ordered some tortilla and peach juice. You see, as of this week, the Spanish parliament has toughened the country’s anti-smoking legislation (one of the most lax on the continent), finally putting Spain in line with the strictest anti-smoking countries in Europe. And it’s about f*cking time.
What many aren’t talking about is how this should have happened years ago! Half a decade ago, everyone else in the world (not stuck in medieval times) made smoking illegal in restaurants and bars. Ireland did it. France did it. Heck, even Italy and Greece did it! But not Spain. Oh no. Here in España, angry owners of bars and cafés cried to the government, complaining that the laws would hurt their businesses. Boo hoo! Never wanting to follow the flock, the Spanish government magnanimously decided to allow these poor owners to decide whether or not to allow smoking in their places. I’ll let you guess how that all worked out.
True, the 2006 law had effectively banned smoking at workplaces and in public buildings such as hospitals and schools. That’s right, Spaniards were allowed to smoke in hospitals and schools until just four years ago. But the government balked at banning cancer sticks in bars, restaurants, discotheques, or hospital entrances. Until now.
I can’t tell you how great it feels to be able to go into any establishment I want (or bring my kids) and be able to breathe. There was a mile-long list of restaurants and bars that I just refused to go to – even if all my friends were going – because the smoke was just too damn thick. And call me insensitive, but I don’t feel bad one iota for those who feel they are being persecuted or having one of their virtual rights taken away. Suck it.
Now let’s see what we can do about all the dog sh*t on the streets.
30% of Spaniards smoke. Smoking kills more than 50,000 people in Spain annually, with 1,200 of those being nonsmokers who inhaled secondhand smoke.