EXPLAINER: Why smoking ban remains on bar and restaurant terraces in Spain’s Costa Blanca and Valencia areas

Anti-smoking association in Spain calls for ban on tobacco sales in bars, restaurants and petrol stations
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LAST WEEK’S ending of Covid-19 health restrictions in Spain left one anomaly- namely the ban on terrace bar and restaurant smoking introduced in the early stages of the pandemic by the Valencian Community.

Aragon and the Balearic Islands removed the ban last week but it appears that people in the Valencia region will have to wait for new president Carlos Mazon to be inaugurated this Thursday for the matter to be resolved.

The incoming Partido Popular leader said: “A decision will be made after listening to the hospìtality sector and it will be quite different to what has happened to date, where we will take their opinions seriously.” said Mazon.

Mazon added that he believes in ‘dialogue, balance and common sense’ and would listen to people with a different view, especially those involved with health.

Conhustor represents 32,000 bars and restaurants across all three of the Valencia region’s provinces and its president Manuel Espinar said it ‘no longer makes sense to maintain the ban on tobacco on terraces’.

The hospitality association though is willing to put forward a bit of flexibility as Espinar explains: “We want a return to the original situation but each business owner should decide whether or not they want to have a smoke-free terrace.”

Other leisure and hospitality groups feel the same about returning to the status quo but the measure would have to be formally repealed in the Valencian parliament, Les Corts.

Another consequence is that tourists from other parts of Spain who visit the region are surprised to see a smoking ban in force.

Alex Fratini from Benidorm’s Abreca association said: “The law should be the same for everyone all over Spain and this is generating arguments with customers.”

“Our job is to deal with tourists and not act as police officers,” added Fratini.

In practice, many businesses have ignored the law in recent months with little if any fines or prosections reported, with Carlos Mazon almost certain to remove the three-year-old restriction.

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