Like many people educated in the U.S., I was taught to have a negative view of the history of Spain. Ruthless colonialists, Inquisitors, fascist Hemmingway villains, machismo-addled bull torturers, etc. So it’s been a revelation to see 21st century Spain being a progressive model in gay marriage, harm-reduction drug policies and in supporting the international prosecution of human rights abusers, etc.
The bad news is that Spain – one of the last European Union country to do so – is enacting stricter new no-smoking laws. Smokers and the business owners serving them have been churlish in complying with the finer points of the no-smoking laws already passed – and still smoking. So the Big Brains in Madrid have decided on a novel solution: Do Even More of the Same! Mucho mas!
However, there is some buenas noticias:
Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez noted that smokers will still be allowed to smoke on the open-air terraces of bars, and many Spanish bars have them, often setting up tables and chairs on the sidewalk. Other exceptions were provided for jails, psychiatric institutions and retirement homes.
In the same way that Spain has been exemplary in human rights issues, they seem to understand that locking up a tobacco-addicted person against his or her will is enough of an intrusion, without adding the further punishment of tobacco withdrawal.
For one thing, in jails, psychiatric institutions and retirement homes, inmates, patients and residents may be:
3. Been smoking for so long and are so old that it’s just cruel to force them to stop now.
For the record, Britain also allows similar exemptions to its otherwise strict no-smoking laws.
They should add veteran’s institutions to this list. The fact that we allowed the veterans to face bullets and bombs with our blessing, but their secondhand smoke is too much, just makes me want to cry and then shake, shake, shake somebody (but not a baby!)
Thanks goodness for the folks practicing harm reduction in relation to providing social services or social restraint to smokers!
Ethicists with the US Veterans Administration, for instance, decided to adopt such an approach regarding veteran smokers who use oxygen. Fire and bottled oxygen don’t get along. Instead of just telling the veteran-smokers to quit smoking – and then shrug about the possibility that addicts might just light up anyway – they respected veterans’ wishes and taught the smokers how to smoke safely.
You know, hoosegows, looney bins and codger stadiums can still be virtually smoke-free, with a few exceptions. ( I hate how thorniness makes me contort language!)
1. Allowing a room in an old folk’s home with a window and a fan to outside.
2. Area’s of outdoor terraces with “okay to smoke flags” depending on wind direction and crowdedness.
3. Specially-designated “No Smoking Days” in parks and zoos, so children can be protected from fourth-hand smoke – seeing someone smoking – and to give a choice to the parents who are most concerned, without denying the children of smokers the ability to enjoy these facilities on other days, without their parents wanting to leave right away.
What? There is no safe level of secondhand smoke? Oh, go stick a feather up your nose!