Take a deep breath.

These days we’re pretty well aware of the effects of smoking. It can cause coronary thrombosis: a blood clot in the arteries supplying the heart, which can lead to a heart attack; cerebral thrombosis: the vessels to the brain can become blocked, which can lead to collapse, stroke and paralysis; if the kidney arteries are affected, then high blood pressure or kidney failure results and a blockage to the vascular supply to the legs may lead to gangrene and amputation. As if that weren’t enough, smokers are more likely to get cancer than non-smokers. This is particularly true of lung cancer, throat cancer and mouth cancer, which hardly ever affect non-smokers. And as a smoker you are more prone to bladder cancer, cancer of the oesophagus, cancer of the kidneys and cervical cancer. And don’t think that giving up the obnoxious weed immediately will make a lot of difference, because for ex-smokers it takes approximately fifteen years before the risk of lung cancer drops to the same as that of a non-smoker.

But what I bet you didn’t know is that it makes the night noisier and closes bars; at least it does according to the FEHV, Federacion Empresarios de Hostelería de Valencia, the hotel, restaurant and bar association of the city. Frankly, I’d rather have that than having a leg lopped off! To be fair, though, they aren’t actually saying that smoking in itself does that, but that not allowing smokers to enjoy their polluting habit in the buildings themselves does.

What they don’t say is that the buggers who can’t smoke in the nicotine fumed establishments also make the streets filthy with thrown away dog-ends and empty fag* packets, but there again, they aren’t going to admit to that in much the same way as the gun lobbies say that simply owning a gun doesn’t mean you are going to shoot anyone. A smoker who has a cigarette end or empty packet isn’t necessarily going to sling it on the pavement, but just look next time you are out and you’ll see just how many do. At least we now have a law that fines anyone who allows their dog to crap on the street and then doesn’t pick it up, (them, not the dog – that would be carrying legal responsibility a bit too far!), so perhaps we should have a law for foulers of the footpath of the fag carrying type.

But back to the FEHV. They are supported in their endeavours to once again allow smoke-filled bars, by ECO, the national association for Empresarios de Calidad de Ocio, a group that supports quality in leisure and pastimes, and the Associación de Discotecas de Valencia, (self explanatory, I believe). Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t really find a pub, club, bar, restaurant or whatever filled with cigarette smoke a very quality experience, but here we have a national association who’s members are supposedly supporting exactly that, trying to get the laws changed to foul up their premises, subject their clients to the all the risks mentioned above (including passive smokers who, apparently, have a higher risk of suffering from lung cancer, brain tumours, renal cell carcinoma, breast cancer, ear disease, asthma…the list goes on, than those avoid a smoky atmosphere), and snogging someone who’s mouth taste like an unwashed ash tray.

If you look at the logo of the Associación de Discotecas de Valencia, it looks like a set of earphones…or is it a set of sound suppressors that men who operated a pneumatic drill have to wear? So what it’s really saying is that if you want have a jolly good time at one of their discos you better take a set of sound suppressors with you, because if you don’t, the next thing you will be wearing on your ears is a set of very powerful hearing aids.

But I suppose these three fine bodies can take some pleasure in the fact that, despite the Government pushing for a ban in all enclosed public venues, and not just those over one hundred square metres, and the miserably inefficient World No-Tobacco Day (why the hyphen?) held recently, smoking is actually on the increase in Spain since the introduction of the anti-smoking ban in 2006. The Minister for Health, Trinidad Jiménez accepted the legislation hadn’t achieved all of its objectives, (personally, darling, I’d say that if smoking has gone up the legislation hasn’t achieved any of its objectives!) while tourism authorities say that the current liberal legislation actually attracts visitors to the country, where tighter controls don’t allow them to blow out obnoxious fumes in their own country’s pubs and restaurants.

‘Go figure’, as our American cousins might say, but as some states in the UShave actually banned smoking on beaches, the current situation in Spain seems incredibly lenient by comparison. So if I have to walk around a pile of fag ends on the street, I suppose it’s better that sliding on the dog shit that used to litter the pavements.

*For any American readers, a ‘fag’ is English slang for a cigarette, not what you think it is.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered

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