Government extends smoking ban

Legislation aimed at protecting people from the perceived dangers of passive smoking is about to be introduced. The new law, set to be passed this month in the Council of Ministers, will be in force by May next year and will mean that smoking will be banned in bars, restaurants, nightclubs and enclosed workplaces.

Smokers will only be allowed to indulge their habit in places of work and homes if there is a proper system of ventilation. But a total ban will be enforced in restaurants, bars, clubs and on public transport – the sole exception will be in the designated smoking compartments on trains, during journeys lasting more than one hour.

Health Minister, Luís Filipe Pereira, presided over a seminar last week aimed at educating health professionals and the population about the negative effects of smoking. The meeting, which took place at Lisbon’s Culturgest, was about preventing and controlling smoking. But the conference also paid close attention to the consequences of passive smoking on pregnant mothers, employees, children and adolescents.

Pais Clemente, President of the Council for the Prevention of Smoking, said politicians had a responsibility “to improve legislation to protect non-smokers and teach smokers to either break their habit or desist from harming the health of non-smokers.” He also referred to the worrying statistic that 12 per cent of pregnant women smoke, despite repeated warnings that they are prejudicing the health of their unborn children.