Fri, 31 Dec 2010


Last night was the last time I came back from a pub with my clothes stinking due to tobacco smoke. The Spanish congress has finally approved a real anti-smoking law which will ban smoking on public areas, with no exceptions or ways to workaround the ban. Starting on January 2nd, the Spanish state will be a smoke-free region (or mostly, it seems it'll be permitted in open-air events like football stadiums or bullrings, and I don't think that will be a great problem for me, specially the latter).

For years, my intolerance to smoke has been increasing and I'm really expectant to see the benefits of this law in my habits. After more than 30 years dealing with smoke around us, it's our turn now. I've been speaking to a few barmans. In general they seem worried this will affect their business, but I can't see how it will. Spain has a big culture for having mid-morning almuerzos in bars, and people are not going to give that up due to not being able to smoke. They will just do it after they get out, not during the coffee, and that's it. The barmans of the two bars I visit most are non-smokers, but have to breath the smoke of hundreds of cigarretes every day, and can't do anything about it. Until tomorrow, when this will end and everyone will have a right to breath better air. I hope this kind of legislation continues to be adopted throughout Europe, because the FOSDEM welcome party is probably the next smoke horror I'll have to face soonish. :)

I'm looking forward for it too. It is going to be great :D

Posted by nacho at Fri Dec 31 16:47:11 2010

Well, no worries here, this will not have a negative effect on pubs and restaurants. The same kind of law was applied in several countries before Spain, for instance in France, and it did not have a negative effect on sales, rather a positive one.

Personally, when I have the choice of going to another restaurant or eating at home or outside, I would never go to a smoking restaurant, this is just too much of a hell. :-)

Posted by Elessar at Fri Dec 31 17:19:46 2010

Free Software is free because, among other things, it can be used by anyone, even the bad guys. How do you reconcile software freedom with freedom of bar owners, who are not free to allow smoking in their bars?

Since noone is forcing anyone to go to for-smokers bars, bar owners should be free to run their business as they like.

Since noone is forcing anyone to use Free Software (including bad guys), Free Software developers should be free to use license of their own choosing.

Posted by mike at Fri Dec 31 17:53:20 2010

It is interesting 10 years ago I was at university and smoking was allowed everywhere except on buses, trains and medical institutions (like hospitals). There was little smoking in institutions like bank, post office, because they forbid smoking by there own interest. But in many public institutions it was allowed to smoke. I remember exiting the class roam in university into corridor and there was so smelling about tobacco that you get sick.

Two year after (8 years ago) there was some tobacco law to forbid smoking in all public institutions like schools, all public institutions etc. It was real relief, no smoking in university corridor.

What was bad of this law is that all the pubs got 10-times more smoky. All that were previously smoking in public places were now going into pub for smoke. Pubs were so smoky that when you entered into the pub you were not able to see who was sitting 3 meters away.

Two year after (6 years ago) there was a new tobacco law to restrict smoking in pubs, but pubs have a choice: smoke free pubs or pubs with separate rooms for smokers and non-smokers. Its got better in restaurants, but when you went to toilet you passed the smoking corridor.

Two year after (4 years ago) there was the newest law that totally forbids smoking in any places including pubs. The only exception is small "telephone" sizes rooms that has one person only place with ventilation and doors with no escaping smoke into the main room. You are not allowed to have a drink there, just a cigarette. This is in theory, but I have never seen "telephone" smoking boxes. There are just too expensive for pubs to buy them.

Now the only place you are allowed to smoke is outdoor. So a lot of pubs now have outdoor seats specially in summer time.

But there are some groups that are also forming to forbid smoking outdoors. For example in apartment block if you smoke in the floor under the person that has open window, the smoke is getting into upper floor neighbor's room. So there are some initiatives to permit smoking even outdoors, that you have to be at least 100 m away from any house. But I don't think this will be supported in law in any time soon.

What it is interesting is, tobacco war is winning, but on the other hand narcotics wars is going up. So at this point I don't think there will be any changes in tobacco law, but are a lot of speaking about alcohol and drawing car.

The results to sells: very small pubs (lets say for max. 10 people) got there sales down, because they only offered like coffee+cigarette, beer+cigarette and something like that. Midsized pubs and restaurants got sales up, because more people are willing to eat in restaurant that doesn't have any smoke in it. The best think of all is you get tobacco smell free clothes.

Posted by frozy at Fri Dec 31 18:03:16 2010

A similar law was introduced a while back in The Netherlands. Bars, clubs and restaurants were actually smoke-free. Downside is that it becomes painfully obvious that a lot of people fart in a bar especially later at night when they had a few drinks (no joke). And contrary to what the politicians said it did have a negative effect on revenues. This problem has been fixed in a typical Dutch way: just ignore the law. Smoking is "allowed" in many bars and revenues are back up. There are teams of civil servants which check bars and give fines to bar owners if people are caught smoking but that does not seem to make any difference whatsoever. Let's hope this law actually works in Spain.

Posted by Pieter at Fri Dec 31 18:05:35 2010

I went to that Friday-night party on my first FOSDEM.  Never again - until I hear they've banished smoking from it!

Posted by niq at Fri Dec 31 18:50:27 2010

I am a non smoker from The Netherlands. The pretext for the law in The Netherlands is about a smoke-free WORK environment. Read: The smoke ban is there for the employees of bars, not for the guests. Small pubs with the owners as their only employees often have a very tight crowd coming to their business and they often almost all smoke heavily. It it in my opinion extremely silly to ban smoking at these places. Also these places have a documented decline in customers while the margins of profits weren't great everywhere anyway (the fact is that places had to close down, the other fact is that this is part of the 'creative destruction' cycle (well not completely since it is government enforced), but a business has to be able to keep up with changing markets and market rules).

The bigger clubs/pubs installed smoke-rooms where nicotine can be consumed in a concealed area with heavy ventilation systems installed.

The big question here in my opinion is, do the business owners have the freedom to determine if smoking is allowed in their environment, or do the non-smokers have the freedom to demand laws enforcing no smoking at public places. A though one, especially since I am biased towards no-smoke due to my own personal interests but I'd like to try to not let that cloud the philosophical question here (which has many facets and no straight answer).

About the smell of clothes, well I can tell you, they will stink nonetheless, now you'll smell sweat, beer (also at the party which might be less unhealthy but far from pleasant as well). The point made about the farts earlier, yes this is too true.

For you personally, I hope these smells and the health benefit have an upside to you compared to being smoked inside-out ;-).


Posted by Dennis at Fri Dec 31 19:18:15 2010

That's wonderful!  I recall how incredibly frustrating it was to find a restaurant in Salamanca which wasn't filled with smoke.

Posted by dilinger at Fri Dec 31 19:40:29 2010

I saw the effect of the same kind of laws introduced in South Africa and California: bars became much more friendly places to hang out. A few very nice pub-like places opened up near us that became hotspots in the LA area.

The cocktail lounges seemed to have suffered though, since they used to attract the non-smokers that now go to the cheaper pubs (the lounges were smoke-free by choice before the laws were enacted).

The downside: as a non-smoker I tend to drink more now ;-)

Posted by Conrad at Fri Dec 31 19:49:38 2010

Here in Italy whe have such a law since a few years now, and pubs and bars didn't have any significant loss. In some pubs you can find a sort of "acquarium" room in which is allowed to smoke, but it must have a very powerful fan to blow the smoke outside, so usually it is noisy and cold.

The big downside is that everybody smoke just right outside the door, so to get in or out the pub you have to cross a thick smoke curtain, even if in open air. Law says that you'd have to smoke at least 5m away from door or windows, but nobody cares about it.

Posted by Ulisse at Fri Dec 31 21:25:34 2010

I think people should all use e-cigars for nicotine and cannaboid self-administration.

I also think dealers of addictive substances should have their profits ..allocated.. to health care, if they're allowed to operate at all.  But really, I don't own my government, the cigarette companies and whatnot do, so there's a real fat chance of all this happening :|

Posted by ethana2 at Fri Dec 31 21:49:01 2010

Here in Danmark, the law against on smoking in bars and restaurants has actually resulted in more guests and not fewer. Apparently, the distaste for coming home with stinky clothes from a night out kept many from going out. So your barman can look forward to more business.

Posted by mok0 at Sat Jan 1 14:10:54 2011

Jordi, you will be able to get rid from tobacco smoke stink from now on, but not 'fritanga' one, at least until any other change of law may be enforced. :)

My only concern is that some bar owners are likely to have more problems with their neighbors because of the noise of their clients going to smoke for a while outside.

Posted by Toni Hermoso Pulido at Sat Jan 1 18:36:57 2011

I always find it amazing how two different concerns are being discussed when it comes to banning smoke.

One is comfort -- "smelly clothes". That is not a serious ground for a ban. After all, what next, being smelly? being farty?

This argument is too sloppy to motivate a ban because a ban is a restriction of freedom which cannot be based on pure convenience..

But the other one is more important: health concern. nig already mentioned it: smoke ban are legaly based on health concerns for workers in bars  and, presented this way, it is serious ground for a ban.

The irony is:
* The REAL concern with smoking ban is mere convenience.
* A LOT of bartenders are smokers

Ultimately, the real debate should be, as nig said too, whether bar owners/employees have a choice to work in a smoking environement or not.

Posted by toots at Sun Jan 2 05:57:26 2011

"Hey, dude, I've been drinking since 7AM, I'm trying to nail this broad I just met, I don't even know her name, but can you put that fucking death stick out?"

Yeah, doesn't wash.  If you want to breathe healthier, pick a healthier lifestyle to begin with, don't force it down on people who don't mind killing themselves.

Posted by Baloo Uriza at Sun Jan 2 22:21:18 2011

Let’s just do our own FOSDEM party, with a less
crowded, no-smoking, room and a… say healthier
amount of beverages (the beer is good, just
too good…) then.

Posted by mirabilos at Mon Jan 3 20:17:46 2011

Sweet! Now that there is a legal precedent can I pick a couple of things I find esthetically displeasing, claim they are "un-healthy" and then force everyone else to bend to my will? tha'd be so awesome! Thanks!

Posted by Phil at Tue Jan 4 16:28:55 2011