PanARMENIAN.Net - Smoking is set to be banned on the outdoor terraces of bars and restaurants in Catalonia as well as in bus shelters and on train platforms, under proposals from the region's health authority, The Guardian reports.
The ban would also extend to open-air sports facilities and inside cars.
The proposed changes, which could come into force within a year, are certain to meet fierce resistance from the hospitality industry. Ever since smoking was banned indoors, the number of venues with outdoor spaces has grown , with terraces serving as de-facto smoking areas making them no-go zones for anyone who does not want to breathe in second-hand smoke while enjoying a beer or a coffee.
Bar and restaurant owners in Barcelona are already at war with the city authorities, who claim that many of the terraces are illegal and occupy too much public space.
At present, smoking is permitted only on terraces that are entirely or mostly in the open air. However, the health authorities claim the law is frequently flouted in enclosed outdoor spaces and plans a series of inspections.
At a national level, the Spanish government is considering raising the price of tobacco and banning smoking in cars when children are passengers. A packet of 20 cigarettes costs less than €5 (Pound 4.50) in Spain compared with about Pound 12 in the UK.
The number of smokers in Spain has fallen to about 22%, according to Eurostat, above the EU average of 18% and well above the UK on 13%.
If they are introduced, the new regulations would be similar to those in force in the Canadian province of Quebec, where it is prohibited to smoke within nine metres (30ft) of any building that is open to the public.