From now on it’s forbidden to smoke on all beaches in Spain. It could have been an advertising slogan: on the beach, you will online enjoy a fresh sea breach. Many Galician beaches already had installed a smoking ban. From now on it’s installed in the whole country and illegal to smoke cigarettes on all beaches in the region. Still smoking you will risk a fine up to 2.000 euros!
From 2021, December 23th, the national law that forbids smoking on the beach is active. That makes Spain the first country in Europe with such a far-reaching legislation. Not bad for a country that has so many beaches!
Galicia sets the trend in non-smoking beaches
The first smoke-free beach dates back till 2012. A local initiative in coastal town Baiona, at the Rias Baixas in Galicia, led to the first beach with a smoking ban in Spain.
After the Baiona initiative more local governments followed and installed smoking bans on some of their beaches. Not just in Galicia, but in the whole country. Nevertheless, Galicia kept leading the race in amount of non-smoking beaches. About 10% to 20% off all beaches in Galicia where part of the ‘Praias sen Fume’ (smoke free beaches).
Although the amount of smoke free beaches where growing, on most – almost all – beaches it was still allowed to smoke. Well, that’s over now. Although you can still smoke on the terraces of restaurants and bars.
Various reasons for the smoking ban on the beach
When hearing about a smoking ban you probably think of health as the main reason. That’s the reason for the smoking ban that most western countries have in public buildings, bars and restaurants. For the smoking ban on the Spanish beaches health however is not the single argument. The environment is the second argument and main driver behind the ban.
Cigarette butts are the major environmental issue on the Spanish beaches. At clean up activities these cigarette butts are the most found trash. And the butts are not just the most found items on the beach, the have heavy impact on the environment as well. Various substances in the cigarettes, like nicotine, metals and benzene, can seriously pollute the soil and water. And the toxic trash can also be swallowed by wildlife having serious results.
The discussion for the smoking ban started with a petition. After being signed by thousands of people the topic reached the Spanish government, where it was discussed and later agreed on. From now on, no more cigarette butts at the Spanish beaches.
Next step, a smoking ban on the streets?
It’s already pretty common that smoking is forbidden in public buildings, restaurants and bars. Although it’s still possible to smoke on Spanish terraces, and that’s done frequently. Banning smoking on beaches is a further step. What will be next?
Galicia already set the next step, albeit it may be temporarily. After the out break off Covid19 the Galician government installed a smoking ban on the streets and all public areas! This ban only applies when it’s not possible to save distance to others. In Spain this minimum distance is 2 metres. Are you standing with somebody within this distance, it’s not allowed to light a cigarette in Galicia!
There were several motives for the smoking ban on the streets during the corona crisis. At first, research indicated that smoke from tobacco can be a transmission factor. Second, it is also stated that smokers risk infection in other ways, such as by touching their cigarette before bringing it to their mouth and by handling face masks when taking them on and off. And last, as we all know smoking has a negative impact on our health in general, that can lead to a heavier impact of Covid19.
How the people live up to this ban and if it is controlled by the authorities, I don’t know.
What do you think, shouldn’t we just totally stop with smoking?
Whatever you prefer, from now on you better leave your cigarettes at home and enjoy just the fresh air on the Galician beaches, without stumbling on dumped cigarette butts in the sand.