Spain: Government urged not to bow to US casino boss on smoking ban challenge



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The Spanish National Committee of Smoking Prevention, a coalition of scientific and medical organisations, together with official professional colleges of doctors, nurses, psychologists and dentists, and international health experts, have condemned proposed changes to Spain’s smoke free laws.

Exceptions to the law are being demanded by Sheldon Adelson, a US gambling magnate who wants smoking to be permitted in a casino he plans to build in Madrid. Dubbed EuroVegas, it is expected to be the largest gambling resort in Europe. (BMJ report here.)

The current tobacco act of Spain, introduced in 2010, prohibits smoking in all enclosed public spaces, and enjoys widespread respect and support from the Spanish population. Prior to its introduction, the 2005 act allowed smoking at the bar owner’s discretion.

Government sources are reportedly working on a formula that will legally enable regions to make exceptions in the legislation. According to Spanish media outlet El Pias, Vice President Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría has said that “there is a procedure for amendment of laws”.

Public health doctor Joseba Zabala Galán, coordinator of the grassroots movement Don’t Touch the Law, and member of the board of the Spanish National Committee of Tobacco Prevention said: “Allowing the 17 autonomous communities the ability to establish differences in the smoke-free laws, besides being a legal by-pass, would mean the end of the current Spanish smoke-free model. It would be a terrible precedent that would weaken the current successful strength and collective belief of the smoke-free law as a real and effective health public tool. We urge all concerned citizens and organisations to support our campaign to keep the current law.”

  • Joseba Zabala

    The latest news in Spain, are increasing the dannger on the smokefree law.

    Health Minister Ana Mato yesterday opened thedoor to the amendment of Tobacco Law as published the news agency Europapress .Furthermore Smokers Club for Tolerance, in
    close partnership with tobacco industry requires that if the smoking ban is lifted in Eurovegas also must be lifted in whole hospitality sector.

    As you can see the threat continues. The defence of Smoke-free Spanish Model is crucial not only for Spain but also for the global movement of Tobacco Control. We appreciate your individual support, but specially on behalf of your organization.

    Joseba Zabala
    XQNS Coordinator

  • Ana Navas

    The indoor smoke-free legislation is probably one of the major public health achievements in Spain in the last decades. It is essential for Spain for several reasons:

    1. From a public health perspective, the legislation has been a major advance for protecting all people from the health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke exposure. No distinctions are made based on geography, work-status, or socio-economic status. Everybody is protected equally.

    2. From an economic perspective, the comprehensive indoor smoke-free legislation is critical for tourism. Clean indoor air in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other entertaining venues
    contributes to make visitors to Spain confortable and happy. Increasing quality of life and satisfaction of tourists are critical in a country in which tourism is so important.

    Backing away in secondhand smoke protection is an unacceptable and shortsighted initiative, with long-term negative consequences for both health and the economy of Spain. We need to make
    all possible efforts to maintain the Spanish smoke-free legislation.

    Ana Navas-Acien, MD, PhD
    Associate Professor
    Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology
    Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
    615 N Wolfe Street, Room W7513D
    Baltimore, MD 21205

  • Anthony D. Jacobson

    It’s interesting that Sheldon Adelson is attempting to manipulate the Spanish Government. I just hope the Spanish Government isn’t so gullible. Any other developed country in Europe wouldn’t kowtow to his whims. That’s probably why he choose Spain. Wish us luck for smoke free environments in Spain.

  • Joseba Zabala

    Thanks Anthony, You’re absolutely right

    Yielding to the pressures of this character is a huge discredit to any government.

  • Maricarmen Dominguez

    Many non-smoker people in Spain have been waiting for the present law that forbids smoking indoor. We cannot allow a clear regression in our rights with the Eurovegas proposal. Our health is not negotiable!!!

  • Quionia Villar lazaro

    This currently Spanish goverment is trying to test population acceptance to “hard to believe procedures”. It doesn´t seem to care about health, neither physical by willing to change smoking law nor psycological by welkoming a gambling company with all its consequences.
    Public prevention and health has no place in this country.
    I hope we all gather to stop the destruction of our health achievements.

  • Esteve Saltó

    A softening of the SF law in casinos and other gambling premises would open the door not only to a regression in the hospitality sector ….it would cleave a performant and protecting legislation in the country, Spain, where the trench is actually situated in Europe.
    May be Adelson and Co the troyan of the TI?

    Let’s hope state government will resist and will ensure that all indoor public areas stay smokefree. Next days are crucial !!

  • Raquel Fdez. Megina

    Today we woke up with the news saying that The Health Ministery will yield to Eurovegas and smoking will be allowed in the rooms where there are no dealers. So, there we go, a prostitution of the Spanish democracy. Sheldon Adelson knew pretty well to which country in Europe he had to address to. Only in Spain our corrupt politician would allow to change our laws so Don Corleaone (AKA Shendon Adelson) could do as he pleases

  • Alexia

    The Spanish Model is used as an example for the rest of the world, especially Latin America – and should not be changed. Spain would be the first country to go back on a law like this – one that is widely-accepted by the public and seen as such a public-health win. Since when should federal laws be compromised for the business interests of any one company? This is making a fool out of the Spanish government for even considering such a change.