Smokers’ freedom to face ‘even more limits’ in October

New rules to be approved by Council of Ministers

According to reports this afternoon, new rules are almost certain to be approved by the Council of Ministers today banning smokers from smoking in outdoor venues.

The rules are to apply to “all types of smokers and all types of tobacco: traditional cigarettes, electronic and heated”.

Says SIC notícias, “the intention is that in October this year it will be prohibited to smoke, even if it is outdoors”.

Smoking next to public buildings like schools, universities and hospitals, at the doors of cafés and restaurants, on outdoor ‘esplanadas’ (terraces) that have any type of cover “will not be permitted”.

Smoking “will only be possible in establishments that have the equipment and separate, protected spaces”.

The new rules also clamp down on places where cigarettes and tobacco can be sold.

Says SIC, “from 2025 the sale from automatic vending machines will be prohibited, as well as the sale of cigarettes in bars, restaurants and fuel filling stations”.

The only places left selling cigarettes will be tobacconists “or similar, and airports”.

According to the government, these new restrictions are the putting into practice of a European directive.

Secretary of State for the Promotion of Health Margarida Tavares said: “Our objective is to fight, to combat tobacco. We do not intend to ostracise, or, as has been said, ban it. We only regulate some places where people can consume”.

What do the numbers say?

Official numbers show that since the Tobacco Law launched in 2007, the number of smokers in Portugal has fallen, but “very, very slowly”, says SIC. 

In 2005, on average, almost 21% of the population smoked.

Almost a decade later (2014), that total had fallen to 20%, and in 2019 it dropped another percentage point, to 19%.

Says Margarida Tavares, the new restrictions make it “possible to wish that by 2040 we could have a generation free from tobacco, and a great deal more healthy from that point of view”.

Reactions are bound to follow (see below). These restrictions, if approved, will still have to pass through parliament (where the government has an absolute majority).

“We weren’t consulted; don’t accept this at all”

ANAREC, the national association of fuel stations, has already reacted in surprise, and a degree of outrage, saying they were not consulted about this plan, which will prejudice sales from filling stations considerably.

Says a statement sent out to press offices: “We do not accept, as it is clearly discriminatory, that tobacco sales are diverted or altered, concentrating on just a few retailers to the detriment and prejudice of others”.

ANAREC is appealing to the government to reconsider – and this is just the ‘first reaction’. There are almost certainly going to be others.

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