Spain - which first brought tobacco back from America more than 500 years ago - has started off 2006 with new restrictions on smoking in public places.

Starting New Year's Day, smoking is banned in Spain in offices, bus and subway stations, and other public places such as stores.

Bars and restaurants with more than 1,100 square meters must have separate non-smoking areas.

Spain has Europe's second highest rate of smoking after Greece. Government health officials say cigarettes kill 50,000 Spaniards a year,

Despite complaints from some smokers and business owners, one poll says more than 70 percent of Spaniards approve of the new restrictions.

New anti-smoking laws also took effect New Year's Day in Belgium.