Spain’s Ministry of Health plans to update the anti-smoking law which could include banning smoking on bar terraces.
In 2020-2021, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, smoking in all outdoor spaces was banned, when the safety distance of 1.5 to 2 metres couldn’t be met. As restrictions were lifted, some communities, such as the Valencian region have continued to prohibit smoking on bar and restaurant terraces.
Now, it is highly possible that these measures could be extended across the country as the Ministry of Health prepares to update the anti-smoking law. And according to the annual survey carried out by the Sociedad Española de Medicina Familiar y Comunitaria (semFYC), it is a move that will be welcomed by many.
The results of the survey that honours the 23rd edition of the ‘Week without Smoke’, which is celebrated until May 31 were published on Tuesday and show that of the 6,302 people that were surveyed, a massive 85.5% are in favour of extending the legislation on tobacco and smoke-free spaces.
Of the people asked 16.3% were smokers, 35% were ex-smokers and 48.7% were non-smokers.
A large majority said that the Spanish government should ban smoking on the outdoor bar and restaurant terraces, whilst 54% said that they believe that tobacco products on beaches should also be banned, something that has already happened on several Javea beaches.
Additionally, 43.6% of those questioned are also in favour of banning smoking inside private cars and 24.2% also champion saying goodbye to smoking on the street.
As well as the 72% who were in favour of banning smoking on terraces, 28.2% would actually extend this restriction to at least eight metres around them. According to professionals from semFYC, “even 27.7% of smokers would support the restrictions of smoking on terraces and 9% would even extend it to a space of up to eight metres around them.”
Another fact that comes to light from the report is that 63.4% of non-smokers and 58.8% of ex-smokers consider that most terraces do not meet the conditions required by the regulations for smoking to be allowed in them.
According to the 2010 modification of the anti-smoking law (the last to date) you can only smoke on uncovered terraces or, at most, surrounded by two walls.
Susana Morena, who is the coordinator of the SemFYC Smoke-Free Week, identifies that "it is clear that hotel terraces are one of the places where a large part of people's social activity takes place and smokers who want to quit smoking perceive them as situations of high risk of failure in their quit attempts".
The SemFYC has also asked for certain measures to be put in place in order to help reduce tobacco consumption, such as increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes/cigars and removing advertising.
A released statement says, "The measures most supported by those surveyed are the intensification of school programs and awareness campaigns in the media (81.5%); the elimination of covert advertising in cinema, theatre, television, influencers, etc. (59.2 %) and the application of the regulation on advertising and spaces without tobacco smoke to new devices such as hookah, electronic cigarette, heated tobacco devices (56.8%).”
If we analyse the responses according to tobacco consumption, the main measures reported by ex-smokers as well as non-smokers are the same.
However smokers "estimate that the best initiatives to reduce consumption are: firstly, educational campaigns and, secondly, the financing of all pharmacological treatments to quit smoking. The measures least recommended by smokers that answered the survey are plain packaging, the expansion of smoke-free spaces and the increase in the price of tobacco, despite being the measures that have shown the greatest impact in reducing tobacco consumption in the population", concludes the SemFYC.
According to the 2020 European Health Survey in Spain, tobacco is the psychoactive substance that is first consumed at an average age of 16.6 years. It is estimated that each year 50,000 people in Spain die from causes that are attributed to tobacco.