Friday, May 25, 2007

Cough, Cough

A few days ago I got an email from Ben, he of the Piccadilly site that is linked here. The gist of this was, what’s the deal with smoking nowadays since the introduction of smoking restrictions some 18 months or so back.

Anyone in England, coming to terms with the rigorous anti-smoking laws in public places, might well ask what restrictions. Setting aside the confusion of the Balearics applying a different interpretation to the mainland, the basics of the law are these:

Any bar/restaurant over 100 square metres must have separate smoking and no-smoking areas.
Any bar/restaurant of less than 100 square metres can opt to be smoking or non-smoking.

Overwhelmingly the smaller establishments have opted to remain smoking zones. In larger establishments, the separate areas are a joke as physical barriers are barely in evidence. But moreover, the policing of all this has been pretty woolly. “The Bulletin” today has a good article about this (you see, I can praise it sometimes!). It quotes findings from the Spanish consumers’ association which reveal that a “blind eye” is often turned towards the issue, while a request for information on fines from the country’s autonomous regions drew only four (out of 17) fully completed answers.

The fact is that the anti-smoking laws here are totally inadequate. England’s (and Ireland’s and Scotland’s) may seem draconian, but perhaps they are necessary. That said, there’s something to applaud in the fact that Spain doesn’t go too far in proscribing what people can or cannot do, and where. Though the other side of this coin is that I still feel the tobacco sale law verges on the iniquitous (in the sense of a functioning free market) in creating a form of monopoly whereby bulk purchases of tobacco are only possible through the limited number of licensed tobacconists.

The season had a stuttering start in April. But now hotel occupations have grown, and the prediction of an even better year than 2006 may yet prove to be accurate. Again quoting from “The Bulletin”, the MD of one tourist group is praising the efforts of the Balearic Government and Tourism Ministry for the promotional strategy which is bearing fruit. Well, good for them. And I suppose this praise has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact the elections take place on Sunday.


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