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From L.A. To Madrid, Smoking Bans Tighten Grips; Finland To Outlaw Cigs Outright

by Staff Reporter
Posted On: 1/27/2010

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LOS ANGELES -- Smoking supporters who believed that indoor smoking bans in bars were the ultimate in tobacco prohibition have now learned better. Around the world, local and federal governments are adopting increasingly extreme antismoking measures. And the government of a Scandinavian nation is the first in the world to say it intends to phase out smoking completely.

In Los Angeles, the City Council on Jan. 20 unanimously approved a ban on smoking within 10 ft. of outdoor cafés and food courts. Lighting up also is prohibited within 40 ft. of food trucks. Similar bans are already in place in other well-known jurisdictions within greater L.A., from Beverly Hills to Santa Monica. Violators can be fined $250; the ban takes effect in January 2011. According to the local press, "No one appeared at the [City Council] meeting to oppose the extended ban."

Europe is seeing tobacco prohibitions grow, too. The government of Spain, a nation relatively favorable to smokers' rights heretofore, plans to ban smoking in all public places starting in June. Officials claim 50,000 smokers and another 1,400 secondhand smoke victims die from smoking each year in Spain. But the nation's hospitality industry is said to be "furious" at the planned legislation. "This latest law is going to destroy us completely," said one bar owner in southern Spain. Tourism is a key driver of Spain's economy.

The Finnish Parliament is leaning toward making it nearly impossible to smoke by banning tobacco sales outright in Finland. The ban was proposed last fall and may be passed and take effect by June, officials said. Philip Morris Finland has filed a grievance with the government, but no lawsuits yet. PMF called the ban "unrealistic" and said it would lead to unexpected consequences -- possibly a hint at black market activity and enforcement challenges.