Mixed emotions about smoke-free establishments .jpg

Mixed emotions about smoke-free establishments


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NEARLY TWO weeks ago after the new smoking law came into effect in Portugal, there are still mixed feelings and uncertainty about the new regulations.

Reports have surfaced that bars and restaurant owners have recorded a fall in sales compared with January 2007, while other establishments have said that business has never been better.

One restaurant owner in Albufeira, whose premises are now non-smoking, told The Resident: “Since the law came into effect, business has been good. Our customers, both smokers and non-smokers, enjoy their food more without the smell of tobacco.”

Experts predicted that bars and nightclubs were likely to suffer more than other businesses as a result of the new smoking law. “This business is up and down. Even the rain can stop people coming here but the rain always stops. If sales are down now, they will eventually go up,” said one Albufeira bar owner.

“We are lucky in Portugal and in the Algarve that the weather is good and my customers do not seem to have a problem with standing outside to have a cigarette, except when it rains of course.”

One of the main issues with the smoking law is the confusion that continues to surround it. There was no specific time stated for when the law would come into effect and the assumption was, therefore, that the smoking law came into effect after midnight on December 31, as New Year celebrations were underway.

Also, several establishments were exempt from parts of the law, including prisons and hotels, which further fuelled the uncertainty, even for the experts in the law.


António Nunes, the president of the entity responsible for ensuring the smoking law is complied with (ASAE), was photographed smoking a cigar at 2.30am on New Year’s Day in Estoril casino. He said that he was not aware that law applied to casinos, as the gaming law was in effect.

The gaming law states that smoking and non-smoking areas should be provided and he said he thought this law overruled the smoking law in casinos.

In the wake of the incident, health authority officials met and decided that casinos will now be allowed to designate smoking areas within the premises.

Since January 1, there have been few arrests due to non-compliance but there have been reports that police officers have been called after people have refused to extinguish their cigarettes.

Experts believe that the only way that this law will be respected is if it is policed properly. They believe examples should be made of the people who do not comply and fines up to 750 euros should be handed down.

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