Smoking ban starts.jpg

Smoking ban starts


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PORTUGAL’S NEW smoking ban is expected to cause a surge in the sale of anti smoking tablets and products, which in 2007 generated 10 million euros worth of sales, as more people will try to quit smoking.

According to the international pharmaceutical marketing company IMS Health Portugal, the sale of anti smoking products quadrupled in the last five years in Portugal; however the percentage of people who quit smoking still remains very low. The Direcção-Geral da Saúde, (DGS), the national health authority, has revealed that only 0.3 per cent of the population (30,000 people) stopped smoking definitively.

Taking into account the increase by 30 per cent in the sale of anti smoking products in Spain and Italy when the smoking ban came into force in those countries, the sale of these products in Portugal is also expected to increase significantly within the first six months.

This surge will be compounded by the restrictions on smoking in closed spaces, the rise in the cost of tobacco as well as some of the anti smoking products no longer requiring a prescription.

Included in the range of anti smoking products are two brands of tablets that are used to treat smoking addictions but require a medical prescription because of their potential side effects. Champix can cause suicidal episodes according to the medicine authority Infarmed. Zyban also requires a medical prescription and is not recommended for sufferers of bipolar disease because it can cause a manic episode during the sufferer’s depressive phases.

Statistics revealed by the DGS indicate that medical support is vital to successfully help smokers quit their habit. During the inquiry, 70 per cent of smokers revealed that they would like to quit, while only 30 per cent of those managed to stop.

The Confederação Portuguesa de Prevenção do Tabagismo, the Portuguese smoking prevention confederation, revealed that of those who do quit smoking, five per cent do it on their own, 10 per cent use anti smoking chewing gum and patches, while 30 per cent quit with the help of a doctor.

This year, the DGS aims to increase consultations for smokers aiming to quit from 200 to between 1,600 and 3,000 for every 100,000 people. Until 2010, the DGS will also be promoting a medical programme to aid smokers to quit that will consist of six consultations with a doctor over a period of one year.

The law

The smoking law is not an outright ban in all enclosed public spaces. However, it will be prohibited to smoke in many closed places. From January 1, it will be forbidden to smoke in all government buildings without exception, work places, rented accommodation, reception areas, health and medical facilities, retirement homes, orphanages, all education and sport facilities, museums, libraries, theatres, food and beverage establishments, airports, bus and train stations, covered car parks and ATM vestibules.

However, the law states that smoking areas can be created in some establishments, including health facilities that treat people for psychological problems. Smoking areas can be designated up to 30 per cent of the total space or up to 40 per cent of the space if the smoking area is completely separate for indoor public establishments larger than 100sqm.

Any establishment measuring less than 100sqm must choose the designation and can opt for the establishment to be smoking friendly. In this case, signs must be posted prior to entry and within there must be walls or separations and ventilation units. Hotels can allocate smoking floors and rooms, up to 40 per cent of the total space.

According to the food and safety officers from ASAE, the law is balanced as “proprietors will be able to decide whether their establishments are for smokers or not and in the case of mixed spaces, will have to comply with the conditions”.

Smokers who ignore the new regulations could face fines between 50 and 750 euros.

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