Friday, February 10, 2006

The Smoking Wars

Every since Spain's smoking ban went into effect on January 1, every bar small enough to legally escape the crackdown—and they are many—has posted a handmade sign on its door advertising the fact. Which means that instead of actually preventing smoking in public, the law is simply shuffling the geography of where smoking takes place.

Meanwhile Esperanza Aguirre, the president of the comunidad--or region--of Madrid, is about to shuffle even more. Her government has drafted a plan to "enact" the anti-tobacco law that in fact disactivates it, allowing smoking in bars as long as the ventilation is good and in offices as long as there is a balcony . After all, she doesn't want smokers "to feel discrimated against." The Minister of Health has responded by calling Aguirre's plan illegal, and suggesting that the presidenta is perhaps willing to jeopardize the health of madrileños in order to win votes. Members of Aguirre's cabinet, in fact her very own councillor for health, has responded by calling for the Minister's resignation. Nothing new there--calling for resignations is what the PP seems to do best these days. The crispación continues.


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