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Friday, January 14, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Beat Dead Horse

We are still only in the first two weeks of January and this will be the third post about Spain’s new smoking ban, something that may seem excessive unless you happen to have lived in Spain before the ban. What was excessive before was how much people smoked here and how bad it was in the bars. I’m not even the most anti- tobacco person I know; the real anti-smokers are generally ex-smokers. I smoke a cigar once in a while so it really isn’t the smoke in the air that bothers me; it’s the smoke that clings to your clothes and follows you home at the end of the day. Many opponents of the new law say that it will keep customers away from bars and restaurants, but for me it will have the opposite effect—if it’s even possible for me to spend more time in bars here (I’m willing to give it the old college try).

Now I find that I'm much more comfortable sitting in a bar reading in the evening. One of my favorite bars in Ruzafa is Ubik Café, a bookstore café with a bit of food and good wines by the glass. Its own popularity kept me away, not because of the crowds but for the smoke generated by the hipsters. I think that it is just as full now except without the mushroom cloud of cigarette smoke looming overhead. The smoking crowd seems to be bearing the law with surprising equanimity. There have been a few well-publicized incidents of patrons not adhering to the law but all I have seen are people politely removing themselves from the premises to have a butt in the street. It’s definitely a win-win situation as smokers seem to smoke less and non-smokers are no longer bothered by the bad habit of others.

I have noticed that I no longer have to be so strategic in choosing a place to sit when I go to a café to read, nor do I have to view entering patrons with dread for fear they will sit next to me and chain smoke. I’m even going to buy a small laptop so that I can do a bit of writing in cafés if I choose to do so—something I would never do before because of the pollution problem.  Life was good but now it’s better!

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