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The tobacco ban in Spain: how it happened, a vision from inside the government
  1. Ildefonso Hernández-Aguado
  1. Correspondence to Professor Ildefonso Hernández-Aguado, Department of Public Health, History of Science and Gynaecology, School of Medicine, University Miguel Hernández, Ciber de epidemiología y salud pública (Ciberesp), Carretera de Valencia s/n. 03550 San Juan de Alicante, Spain; ihernandez{at}

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In January 2011 new legislation on tobacco control, a smoke-free policy, was enacted in Spain that amended the former law in force since January 2006. The new regulation removed all exceptions for hospitality venues, which had been used to continue to allow smoking in most bars and restaurants. The new law also added some restrictions on smoking in open places. The former law was a step forward in smoking prevention and implemented many of the measures for tobacco control covered by WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (restrictions on tobacco sales, comprehensive advertising bans, smoking bans at workplaces, etc).1–3 It had however created the so-called ‘Spanish model’,4 which had similarities with the Philip Morris ‘accommodation’ programmes, and was used by the tobacco industry to challenge smoking bans in other countries. As described by Schneider et al,4 in the 1990s Philip Morris PM introduced an international accommodation campaign as a tool to create goodwill among legislators and to prevent smoking bans. The strategy sought to promote the implementation of worldwide programmes that preserved the social acceptability of smoking. As a pivotal argument, tobacco companies launched the idea that the Spanish model respected ‘freedom of choice’ and contributed, in their opinion, to a more democratic and tolerant society.

Lobbying by the tobacco industry and their allies continues to threaten implementation of effective measures to prevent smoking in many geographical areas.5–7 While much is known about lobbying and the responses from medicine and public health,8 ,9 the process of crafting laws against smoking inside governments has seldom been …

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  • Contributors I have conceived the idea on this commentary, carried out the interviews and wrote the paper.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.