Cablegate: Spain's New Tobacco Control Law Clears First Hurdle

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

261512Z Apr 05




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Spain's tough new tobacco control law was approved by the
nation's Council of Ministers April 22 and forwarded to the
lower house of Congress, where it is expected to be approved
before Spain shuts down for the summer. The law (see reftel
for complete details) bans all tobacco advertising (as
required by EU Directive 2003/33), prohibits smoking in
public and private workplaces, and greatly limits smoking in
other public places.

2. The Council of Ministers resisted union pressure to alter
the draft law submitted by the Health Ministry to allow for
the creation of limited and regulated smoking zones in public
and private workplaces. Indeed, the Council made relatively
few changes to the Health Ministry draft. The major new
element in the bill sent to Congress was the delineation of
proposed fines, which had been left out of the Health
Ministry proposal. In this regard, the Council of Ministers
disappointed many anti-tobacco activists by opting for
relatively small fines.

3. The draft bill sent to Congress imposes a maximum 30 euro
fine on individuals who smoke in prohibited areas. The draft
sets minimum 600 euro, maximum 10,000 euro fines for
establishments that permit smoking in areas where it
prohibited or those that sell tobacco to minors. The most
serious fines (between 10,000 and 600,000 euros) are reserved
for those who violate the tobacco advertising prohibition.

4. Most observers believe the bill will be approved by
Congress and become the law of the land on January 1, 2006.
The former ruling People's Party (PP) has criticized the bill
as "excessively restrictive" and has urged less focus on
punishing current smokers and more emphasis on preventing the
young from beginning to smoke.

5. COMMENT: Anti-smoking forces are pleased the government
held firm on the workplace smoking ban but annoyed that the
proposed fines appear low. With this law, Spain will stop
being a permissive "outlier" and will join many of its EU
partners in ratcheting up pressure on smokers. Of course, the
law will mean little if it is not enforced, and Spain has a
history of not enforcing previous efforts to restrict public
smoking. The law, as drafted, will put the burden of smoking
prohibition enforcement on regional/autonomous community
authorities and largely limit the central government's role
to enforcing the ban on tobacco advertising and sales. All
said and done, the law is a good start and, for Spain,
represents a revolutionary step to tackle one of the nation's
key public health priorities.

6. FACTS AND FIGURES ADDENDUM: media reports of the Council
of Minister's decision included some facts and figures of
potential interest that were not available when reftel was

-- smoking is responsible for 50,000 deaths a year in Spain,
representing 16 percent of all deaths of those over the age
of 35.

-- 92,334,000,000 cigarettes were consumed in Spain in 2003,
representing 2,270 cigarettes per inhabitant.

-- Spaniards spent 9,526,000 euros on tobacco in 2003,
representing 234.38 euros per inhabitant.

-- the tobacco industry accounts for 59,400 "direct" jobs
(18,000 in growing tobacco leaf, 9,000 in transforming leaf
into tobacco products, and 32,400 in tobacco product
distribution) and 30,600 "indirect" jobs (mostly employees of
tobacco companies).

-- tobacco taxes contributed approximately six million

© Scoop Media

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