martes, 3 de enero de 2012

We live better and will live better in a smoke-free Spain

On December 28th the new Spanish Ministry of Health announced  that the current Spanish tobacco law, that entered into force in January 2010, will not be altered with regressive changes. 

The law 42/2010 has been positive and will continue to be positive in many aspects. Therefore, it is good to keep it with no changes as it was approved unanimously by Spanish legislators. Reasons to keep it and strengthen it:

• The law has been accepted naturally by citizens as evidenced by their high compliance, except for isolated and exceptional cases "of insubordination" that have been answered from the authorities (and the public) quickly. 
• Opinion polls show that 66% of the population agrees with the new law, even among smokers.
• The official health inspections show an almost 100% compliance, and there are no doubts in applying the law as it has no exceptions that may complicate its interpretation. 
• It is estimated that the measures contained in the law, along with increased taxation and new pictorial warnings, have resulted in almost 600,000 smokers quitting in 2011. 
• The law has also had an impact on the initiation of adolescents, and has contributed to denormalize tobacco consumption in public places, some as important as cafes, bars and restaurants where children and adolescents saw adults smoking. 
• Exposure to secondhand smoke in cafes, bars and restaurants has become almost zero, as shown by studies using objective environmental markers, with a reduction of 90%. 
• Compliance with the law in outdoor spaces, such as schools grounds and hospital campuses, has not generated problems and smokers have respected the ban. 
• Thanks to the reduced exposure to secondhand smoke, hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction have reduced by almost 10% during 2011, and hospital admissions for childhood asthma have reduced by 15%, as shown by statistics on discharges and other ad hoc studies. 
The law hasn't had negative effects on economic activity in bars and restaurants or in tourism, as shown in the official economic indicators (social security affiliation, billing, accommodation).
• And last but not least, the process lived in Spain, this is, the change from a partial ban to a complete ban in bars and restaurants, has become an example of good practice of tobacco control for other jurisdictions.

Esteve Fernández
Tobacco Control Unit

Also interesting: 
JM Martínez-Sánchez & E. Fernández published in El País (Jan 9, 2012).

[Post en español  aquí]