"No Está Permitido Fumar" in Spain

Spain began the New Year with the introduction of smoking ban in all enclosed public spaces such as bars, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs – as well as some outdoor spaces such as children’s parks, schools and hospital grounds. This is good news for residents and visitors who do not smoke.

But, have Spanish smokers really taken their last puff on January 2, 2011 when the new law took effect? Lighting up is very much a part of the Spanish way of life when enjoying a drink in a taverna or tapas bar. Die-hard smokers and bar owners concerned about the drop in business are not happy and believe that the new law will not work as the authorities do not have the monitoring capacity to enforce the smoking ban.

However, those who choose to ignore the new no smoking law do it at the risk of being reported by customers. It is a legal requirement for all public places to have a complaints book and to have a sign on the wall to advertise this. Apparently these complaints forms carry some weight in Spain. If a customer reports the business to the authorities, and it’s not just in regard to smoking, the penalties are heavy, if found guilty, so businesses do take them seriously.


  1. Comment by Nick

    I live in Nerja, a small coastal town in Andalucia. Since the smoking ban came into effect I have seen no intentional transgressions of the new law, although have to admit that at the beginning I did light up automatically on a couple of occasions. I was soon taken to task for my forgetfulness!

    As anywhere that has brought in smoking bans there are rebels. A bar in Marbella was shut down this month after the owner repeatedly flouted the law, and after refusing to pay the huge fine that resulted his business was closed. There have been other examples of businesses having to be fined to come into line, but in the end the owners will suffer if they allow their customers to smoke. This is what has made smoking bans effective around the world. It is honourable to stand up for your customers’ rights, if that is what you believe them to be, but if you lose your livelihood in the process you might live to regret it.

    So the smoking ban has more or less experienced a calm introduction, and it will only get more normal. I don’t like it, but if you have to live somewhere where you have to go outside to smoke, the Costa Del Sol is not the worst place to suffer!

  2. Comment by Helen Page

    Nick, thanks for your update from Nerja. As non-smokers, we’re very pleased to hear that the no-smoking ban is working.
    Our congratulations to the Spanish authorities for enforcing the ban, and to you for your good attitude!


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