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Spain: 'Hair' Musical Respects New Smoking Law

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MADRID – Actors playing joint-puffing hippies in a Spanish adaptation of the American musical "Hair" are not violating a new law banning tobacco-smoking in enclosed public places, an official said Thursday.

A spectator had complained it might be tobacco the actors are smoking, and a formal complaint was filed with the play's producers, Barcelona city health department official Manel Pineiro said. But the production company ultimately showed the cigarettes were just herbs like basil.

He said a letter was sent a few days ago to the theater saying it was not violating a new Spanish law that bans smoking in all enclosed public places and that the complaint from the spectator had mushroomed out of all proportion.

The play's artistic director, Joan Lluis Goas, said the warning the theater had originally received was "too much" and that artistic and cultural expression should be protected from "silliness and irrationality."

Separately, a restaurant owner in southern Spain who had emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of the law and let his customers keep smoking — only to be fined (EURO)145,000 ($200,000) and forced to shut down last month — reluctantly reopened smoke-free on Thursday, saying he had to make a living and keep his workers employed.

Jose Eugenio Arias Camison, who runs a Basque-style restaurant in the southern resort town of Marbella, said the hospitality industry in Spain is taking a big hit because of the new ban on smoking in bars in restaurants, which took effect Jan. 2.

Arias Camison told reporters his revenue is bound to go down and if it gets to the point where he has to lay people off or may have to close, he will challenge the government again and let his diners fire up anew.

Arias Camison said he is appealing the fine he was slapped with for defying the law, and even if the regional court overseeing the case ultimately sides against him he has no plans to pay it.

"In that case, it will be definitive and they will seize my restaurant. And as I have said several times, if that happens, I will leave Spain," he said.





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