Spain was one of the first European countries to implement legislation restricting smoking in public places, banning smoking in enclosed workplaces in 2006. However, the ban did not include bars and restaurants. This type of partial legislation, known from that moment on as the “Spanish model”, was strongly supported by advocates of the tobacco industry. At the end of 2010, the Spanish Parliament extended the smoking ban to bars and restaurants, and to some open-air spaces, such as hospital and educational campuses.
We present the story of how Spain moved from a partial to a total ban, with the aim of offering practical lessons for global tobacco control. The process of change had several elements: the scientific evaluation of the impact on secondhand smoke exposure, the increasingly positive social climate and acceptability of smoke-free places, the drive and determination of key persons within the national and regional public health administration, and the sustained advocacy from scientific societies, professional bodies, trade unions, and citizens' associations. After a year of review and debate at different levels, the Spanish Parliament changed the partial ban to a total ban, converting Spain to a true smoke-free country from January 2nd, 2011. This change clearly shows that the pressure from the tobacco industry (and some allies in the hospitality sector) can be overcome through combined and continuing actions driven by the different actors involved in tobacco control.
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