Spain to Crack Down on Smoking

Cigarettes were invented in Spain, when peasants recycled the tobacco in cigar butts they found in the streets. Tobacco has played a major role in the country's economy and cultural identity, and even in schools and airports, the smell of smoke and the sight of large ashtrays are common.

Until now, that is.

The AP is reporting that the Spanish government may soon pass a tough new anti-smoking law. If successful, the report says, the law will rid the country of its "dubious status as one of Western Europe's easiest places to light up."

The bill passed by parliamentary commission calls for transforming all bars and restaurants into no-smoking zones, bringing Spain in line with the European Union's strictest anti-smoking nations and many U.S. states that bar smoking in enclosed public places. It's expected to pass the Senate and become law on January 2.

Most interestingly, the law also will make Spain a tougher place to smoke than many other European countries, where bars and restaurants are still allowed to have smoking sections, and will prohibit smoking in outdoor places such as playgrounds and the grounds of schools and hospitals.

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