RESTAURANTS, bars and nightclubs will not become smoke-free zones under the forthcoming anti-smoking legislation, as was previously stated by the Minister for Health, Luís Filipe Pereira, last November.
In a sensational government U-turn last week, the Ministry of Health announced that alterations to the law prohibiting smoking in the country’s restaurants, bars and night clubs are to be scrapped. Pereira refuses to change the anti-smoking bill that will be presented at the Ministers’ Council but admits that the version to be approved will not include these measures.
Details of the bill given to the media last November, on National No-Smoking Day, included the banning of smoking in restaurants, workplaces, bars, discos and old people’s institutions. The bill also proposed the prohibition of smoking on public transport, in schools, hospitals and health centres.
“We will remain uncompromising with regards to the smoking policy at places where people are obliged to be,” said the Minister, referring to the strict non-smoking rule that will be introduced at schools, health institutions and offices. However, the same rules will not be applied at places where “people have a choice of going and know what they can expect”, said the Minister, referring to bars and restaurants.
The decision to go ahead with the approval of the bill by the end of the month, by a government that is now primarily only taking care of day-to-day matters, has been justified by Luís Filipe Pereira as being “in the interest of the public’s health”.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese media is already speculating as to other reasons for the move, citing pressure from tobacco giants, such as Philip Morris, an accusation which the company has denied.