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Street bar in Alfaz - complete with decking and planters
Since the smoking ban was introduced in Spain on 2nd January 2011, many bar owners have complained about the detrimental impact on takings. The anti-smoking laws are one of the strictest in Europe and the introduction was met with mixed reviews. The rules were first introduced in 2006, which outlawed smoking in the workplace but allowed bar and restaurant owners to choose whether or not to allow it. The UK introduced a smoking ban in enclosed public spaces back in July 2007.

It has been a tough transition for many Spaniards, for whom cafe culture - lighting up while enjoying a drink and tapas - has been an essential part of daily life. Bar and cafes which had an outside patio area were able to overcome the situation but many smaller bars in the local villages struggled to accommodate the smokers, having no outside facilities.

Basic bar - just tables and chairs on roadside
In Benidorm, the Town Hall allowed the top end of Calle Gerona to be closed off to traffic and pedestrianized , allowing local bars and restaurants to bring out tables and chairs for visitors to dine al fresco.

Well it looks like Alfaz Town Hall have followed suit and are determined to give a helping hand to local businesses. Initially they installed bollards on the road in front of the bars with no patio area, to allow them to place tables and chairs outside for the smokers. Now though, some of the individual bar owners have gone a step further and customized the area with decking and and hanging baskets!

Another customized bar - with wooden screen and planters
Can you imagine a London borough, or come to think of it any UK council forfeiting valuable income from parking to give a helping hand?

The introduction of the anti smoking law here in Spain hasn't appeared to cut the number of people smoking from what I can see. It is a common sight seeing a mother lighting up whilst pushing a pram or smoking in the car whilst on the school run!

Even though cigarette prices went up slightly last month, a packet of Benson & Hedges or Silk Cut is still only 4.50€ - aprox £3.72 at yesterdays exchange rate of 1.21, which compared to the UK price of £7.46 is still less than half price!