Life, Europe

Barcelona bans smoking on beaches

New measure aims to reduce pollution of sand, air

Alyssa McMurtry   | 01.07.2022
Barcelona bans smoking on beaches

OVIEDO, Spain

A new regulation making smoking illegal on Barcelona’s beaches came into effect on Friday.

Residents have been warned for the last three months of the new measure, which will make the city’s 10 beaches smoke-free throughout the year.

Last summer, the city piloted a similar scheme on four beaches.

During the trial, researchers saw a marked drop in the number of smokers on the beaches, even though those violating the norm were not fined.

For example, during the last week of the trial, researchers observed that 19% of beachgoers smoked without the regulation while just 2.6% of people smoked on smoke-free beaches.

In Barcelona, around 20% of the population smokes daily.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by the Barcelona city hall found that more than 80% of residents were in favor of making beaches smoke-free.

Smoking is not only damaging to human health, but it can also be bad for the environment.

One study found that cigarette litter is the single most abundant waste product on Western Mediterranean beaches, representing 25% of all objects collected.

Cigarette butts take a decade to decompose. Since they are light, they easily find their way from land into the sea, where they accumulate.

The butts release chemicals into the environment and can be consumed by wild animals, both in their whole form or as they break down into microplastics.

Barcelona is the first major Spanish city to crack down on smoking on beaches, but the trend is picking up across the country.

By May 2022, around 550 beaches across Spain were smoke-free, up dramatically from 2014, when it was forbidden to smoke on just 15 beaches, according to an anti-smoking NGO.

In Barcelona, the fines for those caught breaking the new rule will be €30 ($31.37).

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