Smoking ban takes effect in Spain today

Starting today in Spain, it is illegal to smoke in any enclosed space where the public gathers. This includes bars, cafes, and restaurants. It will also be illegal to smoke in school playgrounds and near hospitals. Smoking will even be banned from TV shows.

Spain joins a host of countries that have recently toughened up anti-smoking laws, including Finland, Egypt, and Syria. Countries with national health care systems are looking for ways to reduce costs, and getting people to give up an unhealthy habit is one way to do that. In the U.S., health insurance companies have been among the biggest proponents of anti-smoking legislation.

Living in Spain, it’s seems inconceivable to me to spend a night out on a juerga (pub crawl) and not come home smelling like an ashtray. Then again, I had a hard time believing British pubs would enforce the UK smoking ban a few years back, and they did.

Spanish bar and cafe owners aren’t happy, though. With the economic crisis some have already gone under, and others fear that customers will keep away. A Spanish law in 2006 seemed to have solved the problem by allowing smaller places to choose whether to be smoking or nonsmoking, while larger venues had to provide no smoking areas. Most smaller places chose to allow smoking, but a few did well by becoming bastions of clean air. Now everyone has to ban smoking, and those larger places that built special nonsmoking sections ended up wasting their money.

Global Exec Aviation and Blu Cigs partner to keep smokers satisfied

Global Exec Aviation would like to thank you for smoking. Sorta.

The charter airline is sympathetic to the feelings of smokers, a rarity in today’s world. Spend a few hours on a plane, if you’re in the habit of puffing, and the result is a nic fit with an intensity determined by the length of your flight. Cross the Atlantic, and that first opportunity to light up is impossible to describe.

No, Global Exec Aviation isn’t going to let you fire up in flight, but it will give you the next best thing. The airline is partnering with Blu Cigs, which makes electronic cigarettes. The devices emit a mist rather than smoke, and the vapor contains the nicotine that makes a long flight easier to bear. So, if you fly Global Exec, there will be Blu Cigs on hand for you.

According to USA Today:

“Definitely it’s the first step,” Jason Healy, president of Blu Cigs, says of the partnership with Global Exec Aviation of Long Beach. “It’s largely to gather feedback … and just highlight the fact it’s an option.”

Smoking has been prohibited on all commercial flights to, from and within the United States since 2000, USA Today reports, but charter flights can choose to allow smoking as long as they provide a non-smoking section.

For those hoping the Blue Cigs will be provided on commercial flights … don’t hold your breath. Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins told USA Today, “We have no plans to offer e-cigarettes, and we currently do not allow their use in-flight.” A spokesman for American Airlines says the same.

Jason Holi, one of the operations managers at Global Exec thinks that perspective might be a bit hasty:

“We’re in a customer-service industry,” Holi says. “If I have a passenger who’s a white-knuckle flier but a heavy chain smoker, I want to make it as accommodating as possible for him.”
Keeping your customers happy – what a novel concept!

[photo by Vanessa Pike-Russell via Flickr]

New York City’s Bloomberg proposes outdoor smoking ban

Thought you were going to light up a cig on your next trip to Central Park? Think again! Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to get a new measure passed that would prohibit smoking – outdoor smoking – in parks, beaches, marinas, boardwalks and pedestrian areas in New York City, according to the local Fox affiliate.

Even the mayor hasn’t always been convinced that he could pull this off, and it still needs to go before the city council. Sentiment in the city is mixed, with many non-smokers unwilling to see the law go this far for civil rights reasons.

Of course, I smoke a cigar near (though not in) Central Park just about every evening, so my opinion on this new measure is pretty clear.

New Wisconsin hotel smoking ban: big fines, no choice

Wisconsin has just cracked down on smokers from out of state. It’s only the second state with a smoking ban that applies to every hotel room in the state. This differs from most smoking bans, like the one in Kansas, in which the properties can allow smoking in a certain percentage of guestrooms. Michigan is the only other state with a hotel smoking ban this severe.

The hotel business in Wisconsin wasn’t thrilled about the legislation and did push against it. The greatest challenge, however, seems to be convincing the guests that it’s not a scam – that the ban is actually the law. It’s a lesson worth learning, for guests, because the consequences are severe. Notes USA Today:

Wisconsin’s roughly 2,000 hotels post signs declaring their building a non-smoking facility. They’re also requiring guests to initial a statement promising to comply or face paying a fee. Hotels are charging penalty fees anywhere from $100 to $300, she said.

[photo by ell brown via Flickr]

Egypt plans smoking ban

Smokers beware–there will soon be nowhere to run.

It started in Europe and North America, and now it’s spreading around the world. Country after country is banning the use of tobacco in public places. Some countries are going even further. Finland plans to ban smoking entirely, while more limited laws are appearing in the most surprising places.

Even the smoker’s haven of the Middle East is getting into the game. Syria’s smoking ban covers public buildings and popular gathering spots such as cafes, and now Egypt is starting a smoking ban too. Alexandria is the first city to enact the ban, which will eventually cover the whole country. Officials are starting by enforcing a usually ignored law already on the books that forbids smoking in government buildings, and the ban will spread to other public buildings such as cafes within two years. Other cities will soon follow.

One wonders if Egypt’s many hookah bars will fight the ban like the hookah bars in Paris.