New Non-Smoking Law In Spain

Guest post by Jacques Frisch from Barcelona Life

A new law which prohibits smoking in public areas has hit Spain on January 2
This is a heads up to all smokers that are planning their Barcelona holiday in the near future: the Spanish government has tightened measures in order to ban public smoking next year. Following the example of other EU countries, the Spanish Ministry for Health have changed the legislation established in 2005 on the 2nd of January 2011. Article 8 of the paper, which gave bars and public places the choice to allow smokers has been removed.

As Barcelona was considered one of the last urban paradises for smokers, the new law might affect large parts of the city’s lifestyle too. The non-smoking law in Spain dictates that smoking is going to be banned in enclosed spaces, parks, hospital doorways, schools and public places such as bars, restaurants, clubs, airports and train stations. Catalonia’s capital usually attracts tourists taking advantage of the low cigarette prices and enjoying liberal sociable smoking during their holidays. It’s been already prohibited to smoke at public work places, in trains or train stations for a while.

still smoking by jenny downing. image

Smoking will still be permitted in bar terraces, on the condition that they do not have more than two walls. Smoking will also be permitted in smoking clubs; however, these clubs must have a registered headquarters formed by members and created exclusively for the consumption of tobacco.

NOTE: Certain other places will be exempt from the ban. These are: prisons, old peoples’ homes, psychiatrists’ offices and hotels, which will be able to reserve up to 30% of their rooms for smokers.

So, on 2 January 2011 the Spanish Ministry of Health has finalised the new non-smoking law following an agreement across all parties of the congress. This two step approach to cut down smoking in the country should support a smooth transition from a smoking to a complete non-smoking culture in public. Now that the first steps for public areas and businesses have taken place already, people need to get used to the new non-smoking law.

Aside from the unhappy reaction from smokers, the owners of bars and restaurants heavily protested against a new non-smoking law for Spain. There are some anti-tobacco organisations which stand against the Spanish restaurant and bar trade. They are hard-liners and are pro a total non-smoking law.

Smoking in Barcelona bars will soon be a thing of the past no fumar. by lisa_eglinton.

So, if you are a passionate smoker, bear in mind the new law before you start your Barcelona holiday. Good news for all non-smokers – finally no stinky clothes and hair after a long night out anymore! No annoying smokers sitting next to your table in the restaurant and no bad air consisting of more smoke than oxygen anymore! When it comes to smoking Barcelona has been a smokers’ paradise for the last couple of years, but for non-smokers it felt still like a city back in the 90’s. However, this is about to change…

What do you think about the smoking ban? Will the benefits outweigh the costs? Leave a comment to discuss your opinions.


  1. What a great incentive to travel to Barcelona again! I’ve always thought Barcelona was an amazing city, rich with culture, history and cuisine, however tainted with the clouds of smoke. Can’t wait to visit again.

    • I agree!

      I live here and love it, but if there is one thing I could change it would definitely be all the smoking!

      Hopefully this time the law goes through and people abide by it.


  2. At last I will go out more often at the weekends, and without the fear of needing an oxygen mask and waking up the next morning thinking I smoked 100 cigarettes! Unfortunately here they do not know how to make a smoking bar/pub pleasant for everybody… opening a window or a door to let in a little fresh air and let out a little of the thick smoke, is unheard of. Let alone an extractor fan!!


    • I agree,

      I was in a bar last night near the Sagrada Familia which fortunately had a non-smoking area, but the bar was closed which meant having to go to the smoking side to get a drink – it was like walking into a big fire!

      Here’s hoping the law actually gets passed!


  3. We spend about 3k to 4k per annum in Spain as we visit regularly from the U.K. Like many other english people (british if you prefer) we come to Spain to escape the Draconian smoking bans over here. We are losing 40 pubs a week STILL – after 3 years. If Spain brings in the same ban then we will no longer visit. Simple. Multiply us by thousands!

    • Thanks for the comments.

      There are certainly 2 sides to every argument, and there is no doubting the effect it has had on pubs in the UK. Terrible to think of it happening to all the small, family run bars and cafes in Barcelona, and throughout Spain!

      However, a quick look online and it seems that the vast majority of countries now have a smoking ban. Certainly the other main European countries such as France, Portugal and Italy, and Germany needs to provide seperate smoking rooms.

      The good thing about Spain though is that unlike the UK, it is possible to sit outside for much of the year. Smoking will be allowed outdoors, so hopefully the bars won’t suffer too much. This has happened in Italy, and the law has been welcomed with open arms by the vast majority.


    • It is very difficult, and quite possibly inaccurate, to attempt to directly link the UK’s smoking ban to the closure of pubs and bars over the last 3 years in the UK. Other significant factors such as an economy in decline, and the deepest recession since 1921 may also have contributed to pub goers spending less on luxury items such as eating and drinking out, thereby leading to financial struggle and closure for many pubs. A range of other sociocultural factors too, such as the surge of BYO restaurants in London and other cities have made many individuals less keen on the high prices charged in many pubs – however many pubs offering good value for money and excellent service continue to thrive, despite these factors.

      This aside, a ban on smoking is to encourage a healthier workplace for employees and also to provide freedom from smoke for those who choose not to indulge. Many smokers themselves agree that it is more pleasant to be in a clean atmosphere and pop outside for a cigarette whenever they fancy. I have many friends who are smokers, yet none of them has stopped socialising in pubs, bars and restaurants in the last three years, they would view this as cutting off their nose to spite their face, a futile decision which makes no sense at all… and many of them are glad they are smoking less and enjoying a cleaner and more enjoyable drinking environment in the UK.

      Barcelona, or indeed Spain, will never lose its wonderful charm and laid back friendliness, especially not to a smoking ban bringing them into the 21st century like many other states/countries around the world.

      • Hi Sarah

        Thanks for the comments. I certainly agree that the financial crisis has had a devastating effect of pubs throughout Europe, smoking ban or not. As you say, when trying to save some cash, luxuries such as trips out to a bar for drinks or dinner are the first expenses to be cut. I am not so sure if I agree that BYO restaurants have changed peoples attitudes to drinking in pubs – I think the novelty of ordering a pint at your ‘local’ with friends cannot be threatened by a curry house that lets you bring along a bottle of wine.

        I totally agree with you on the employees’ argument. We have to protect bar workers, often young people working for an extra bit of cash, who aren’t even legally old enough to smoke themselves. As I have mentioned before, I am also glad about the smoking ban in Spain. At the end of the day it comes down to health, and no matter how strong the economic arguments are, for me these will never out way the heath and safety benefits for waitresses, bar staff and other punters.

        Thanks again for your thoughts and please let us know if you have any more


    • I don’t buy it. We had so many people arguing the same thing in the US when we first had our smoking ban. Everybody thought the bars and clubs would go out of business. The opposite is true. More people enjoy going now that they can breathe freely in them. You can still smoke, you just have to step outside so I don’t see how or why it would keep smokers from going. Health is more important than being able to take a drag at other people’s expense.

      • Thanks for your comment mike! I am a non smoker myself and welcome the ban with open arms. It will be nice to get home after a night out & not smell like an ash tray. It is nice and warm in Barcelona most of the time so stepping outside to smoke shouldn’t be too unpleasant. Have you been to Barcelona before? Will the new smoking ban encourage you to return?

  4. All the anti-smokers here who are saying how good it will be and how much more they will go out once the ban is in are liars.
    The same comments helped the UK ban come in.
    Now there are 70 pubs a week closing for good, all down to the smoking ban.
    Can’t help but wonder how long it will be before Spain’s bars start closing in droves, and, of course, the closures will be because of “the recession” “the weather” “a change in life-style” “the flying pigs” Anything but the truth. SMOKING BANS KILL BARS.
    Spain, and Spanish bar owners you have my sympathy.

  5. I still cant understand why it is so difficult to have smoking and non smoking bars and restaurants so every one can decide for themselves. People have said that its for our health and the health of those around us smokers, that the ban has been put in place. what about the drinkers whose organs are damaged by drink and the behavoir of drunken louts. How many smokers have vomited, attacked and injured other people, needed an ambulance or had the police called and ended up in a cell, because they have had one too many cigarettes ? I now live in spain and used to choose to go to a smoking bar, but now the ban is in i prefer to sit at home and have a dri

    • Hopefully as it has in many other countries, smoking outside will become second nature and people will forget the time when they could smoke inside. In the mean time I really hope that people don’t stop going out because of the ban and it doesn’t damage small businesses. Surely people go out for other reasons than to smoke?
      Not being forced to breath in other people’s smoke provides a much more enjoyable and healthier atmosphere and the great thing about Spain is that with smoking outside you certainly won’t freeze!



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