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So long, smoke-filled tapas bars: Spain's smoking ban begins

As of Sunday, anyone caught smoking in enclosed public spaces will now have to pay a 30 euro ($40) fine and as much as 100,000 euros ($134,000) after being caught three times.

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A sign that reads 'Smoking is forbidden' is posted on the door of a bar in Madrid, Sunday. A new Spanish antismoking law has taken effect which prohibits smoking in all enclosed spaces as well as at playgrounds, in schools, and outside hospitals.

Susana Vera/Reuters

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Spain’s reign as the last Western European haven for smokers ended Sunday as a new law came into effect banning smoking in enclosed public places.

Those caught smoking indoors or even in some open spaces like playgrounds will now have to pay a 30 euro ($40) fine and as much as 100,000 euros ($134,000) after being caught three times. Restaurant and bar owners failing to impose the new law will pay between 60 euros ($80) and 100,000 euros for each violation.

Many Spaniards are happy about the change, given the country's reputation for smoke-filled tapas bars.

“Finally we can eat,” says Patricia Vargas, a photographer and former smoker.

Smokers and bar and restaurant owners, however, are crying foul.

“This is unfair for smokers,” says Yasad Ecrem, a day laborer from Romania puffing away outside a slot machine business in the heart of Madrid. “They shouldn’t be able to impose this.”

A statistical battle

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