MY heart went out to the Marbella restrateur who, perhaps a trifle foolishly, decided that enough was enough and that he would actively not enforce the smoking ban (that came into effect in Spain in January) in his restaurant.
I have never had the good fortune to meet the chap himself, someone who goes by the name of José Eugenio Arias, but he has my undying respect for fighting what is already a lost battle.
One has to admire the man’s conviction to his cause – though he may soon receive a conviction of another sort.
The prospect of a 140,000 Euro fine and closure of his restaurant has not stopped him travelling the country drumming up support and collecting many thousands of signatures to a petition which, I assume, at some point he will present to the government in an attempt to have the ban lifted. I can assure him that it won’t be.
As a seasoned and enthusiastic user of a wide range of tobacco products I was surprised when wowsers in the UK followed the example of their American cousins and persuaded the government to ban smoking in most public spaces.
Although it started with places of work it has now spread to places of entertainment and, in both environments, we smokers have ended up like lepers on the pavement.
For goodness sake, the Irish have banned smoking in pubs! Even the Italians have followed suit with government-sponsored orgies permitted as long as nobody lights up a cigarette.
They’ve taxed us to the hilt, tried to scare us with toxic slogans and driven cigarettes and cigars under the counter – prohibition must be the next step.
The reason I know that José’s battle is lost is because the legislators, and the wowsers who spur them on, have absolutely no doubt in their minds that they are imposing this regulation upon us for our own good – segregation of the lepers is not enough, they must be cured.
However, José is lucky that he only has the Spanish government and the international anti-smoking conspiracy to contend with. The dining room at Bartie Hall has also been declared a no smoking zone and I have to face up to The Lady Bartie!