Portugal PM Gets Heat for Smoking on Plane

Was he just blowing smoke when he backed Portugal's cigarette ban?
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2008 2:41 AM CDT
Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, with his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Zapatero. Both men have been criticized for smoking in public in defiance of their own governments'bans.    (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)
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(Newser) – Portugal banned smoking in public places five months ago but the country's prime minister appears to have forgotten the rule his own government enacted. Jose Socrates—known to be a smoker in private—stunned passengers and triggered an uproar when he blithely lit up in the first-class cabin of a TAP flight from Lisbon to Caracas.

"I didn't think I was breaking the law," the prime minister told reporters after his infraction was revealed. "I thought I could smoke. I always did before. Unfortunately, this has generated controversy and I am regretful."