The anti-smoking plan will help citizens to ban smoking on terraces

Today the Public Health Commission of the Interterritorial Council meets, made up of public health officials from the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities, to analyze the Comprehensive Plan against Smoking 2024-2027, designed by Mónica García's team, and incorporate the proposals of the autonomous communities.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
02 April 2024 Tuesday 11:22
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The anti-smoking plan will help citizens to ban smoking on terraces

Today the Public Health Commission of the Interterritorial Council meets, made up of public health officials from the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities, to analyze the Comprehensive Plan against Smoking 2024-2027, designed by Mónica García's team, and incorporate the proposals of the autonomous communities. The consensus, according to sources consulted by this newspaper, is guaranteed, understanding that all those involved are clear that it is necessary to advance in the fight against this addiction and to give a push to achieve not only a reduction in the number of smokers, but also to prevent the youngest from 'add to smoking. So far the consensus (which is no small thing).

Another thing is how far you want to go to put an end to an addiction that kills 50,000 people every year (including half a thousand passive smokers) and is behind 16 types of cancer, because the plan includes legal reform of the 2010 anti-tobacco law and expand smoke-free spaces. And this is the big stumbling block, if the terraces of bars and restaurants are included as places where you can't smoke.

Some communities, such as Catalonia or the Canary Islands, have shown themselves in favor, while others are radically against it, such as Madrid. Others, like Galícia, talk about voluntariness and giving tax incentives to hoteliers who decide to ban tobacco and its products.

Behind the refusal to ban smoking on the terraces is the hospitality industry, which predicts, as it did in 2005 and 2010, enormous economic losses. Those who are in favor (Health, scientific societies and social organizations) deny the allegations of the hoteliers: people will not stop going to the terraces if smoking is not allowed, just as they did not stop going to these spaces when smoking was banned inside.

This is the most controversial point of the plan and the one that has become the political battleground between some communities (the majority of the PP) and the rest.

But, as sources from the General Directorate of Public Health of the Ministry explain, the plan is a road map that points the way until 2027. In other words, smoke-free spaces will not be decided today, for example, but the measures will be that will be carried out these years to achieve the objective of clearly reducing smoking.

And, for this reason, before the reform of the tobacco law is considered, awareness campaigns will be carried out that move the debate to every home and that it is the citizens themselves who create the climate of opinion because, among other issues , demand the end of tobacco and its products on the terraces. With a favorable climate, the reluctance of the communities will dissipate. At least, most of them. "It's what happened in 2005, that the law fell short and it was the citizens who demanded an end to smoking in all closed spaces", these sources explain.

This is what the people in charge of Health expect with regard to the terraces, because in the rest of the spaces being studied, such as universities or beaches, there is more consensus. Also to ban smoking inside vehicles when pregnant women or children travel, as is already the case in many European countries. They believe that this ban is a "matter of common sense" and has enough scientific evidence to ban smoking in a private space.

There is also consensus regarding equating electronic cigarettes with conventional tobacco, considering that they are the gateway for minors to smoking. And that in recent months the tobacco industry has not stopped pressing to avoid equalization claiming that it is a means for smokers who cannot quit the habit.

The aim of the plan is to reduce the number of smokers, especially among minors (460 young people start smoking every day). For this reason, there is also consensus to clearly raise tobacco taxes, which are among the cheapest in Europe, until they reach 8 or 10 euros per pack, and to promote generic or neutral packaging, that is, without brands sight (it is estimated that this measure would reduce the number of smokers by at least 250,000).