Without even a collective cough or splutter it seems like the threat of a complete smoking ban in public places may have a stay of execution. Although the ‘P’ in PSOE does not stand for procrastination, as the summer break approaches, it seems that legislation with the amendments to the 2005 law, may not reach Congress before the holiday season kicks in!
According to news in the Spanish Press, including La Razón, it’s possible that the Minister for Health, Trinidad Jiménez is considering putting off the zero tolerance smoking legislation until 2011, at least for Bars and Cafés.
Deep down there may be other political reasons for this. Although the PP are supporting the new bill, there is a Spanish election coming up in the next 12-months and this legislation could possibly lead to a loss of smoker’s votes for the PSOE plus there is pressure from both the hostelry industry and the tobacco companies to put this change off for a long as possible, due to fears of profit and job losses.
However, La Razón has emphasized that Jiménez still wants to push through the bill to ban smoking in all public spaces, with the exception of Bars, who may be given another year before the legislation would cover their sector too.
In terms of revenue, the hostelry sector fears that the increase in IVA on July 1st coupled with a smoking ban, will scupper any chance for a revival in their fortunes this summer. Meanwhile, the Government are possibly also looking at losses from taxes on tobacco sales and the extra 1% from IVA that they could take in over the holiday season.
Unfortunately, better health through cutting down on passive smoking may be placed below revenue generation, as the PSOE look for any solution to raise revenue, and further taxes on the smoking industry, may seem to be a simple way of doing it! Local market research would also confirm that the majority of Spain’s smokers do not seem at all surprised that the legislation may not come into force this summer. It remains to be seen if the Minister for Health, Trinidad Jiménez will make an announcement in the coming weeks, about this confusing and uncertain situation.