What a difference a day can make. On January 31st, 2010, you could be sitting in a Spanish tapas bar enjoying a nice stogie with some friends. But, do the same thing a few days later, and you will be slapped with a big fine. That’s right – one of the countries with the highest Cuban tobacco consumption per capita in the world has banned smoking.
If you are in Spain, you are no longer allowed to enjoy your fine cigar in any restaurant, bar, or enclosed space that is open to the public. Plan on ignoring the law and lighting up anyways? Expect to pay around $40 for a first offence, all the way up to $100,000 for repeat offences. The owners of the establishment you light up in will also be on the hook for big monetary fines.
While the Spanish government reports that smoking kills over 50,000 people per year, they seem to have acted in a rash manner. Have they really thought about the consequences to the rich Spanish social life and the tradition of having a drink and a cigar with friends? The venues that now prohibit smoking are a very large part of the Spanish economy, and if people are not allowed to enjoy a smoke there, they might no longer show up. How can that be good for a country that is struggling financially?
What repercussions will the smoking ban in Spain have on their hospitality industry, their entertainment industry and the overall state of tobacco consumption countrywide? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure – a lot of cigar smokers are unhappy about it.