Algarve concessionaires accept beach smoking ban

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Beach concessionaires in the Algarve town of Quarteira, as well as their customers, approve a ban on smoking in these leisure facilities, following the example of other areas that already have smoking and non-smoking zones.

A new tobacco bill introduced by the government, which entered Parliament on May 26, provides for a smoking ban on sea, river and lake beaches (lakes), by decision of the management, administration or concessionaire, among others.

Quarteira Algarve
Quarteira Algarve Wide-sandy-beach-of-Quarteira-and-Vilamoura

“We’re out here in the open air. I think it’s a bit the same as for café terraces. The population was a bit shocked, but in the end, people accept it,” Tiago Duro, who runs the Minha Praia concession in Quarteira, told the Lusa press agency.

As for the possibility that the future law will entrust the decision to ban smoking to the concession holder, Tiago Duro says he “will adhere to the ban”.

“As you can see, the concession is an open space. The person, if he or she wishes, only has to walk a few meters forward or backward to end up smoking his or her cigarette”, he explains.

For this professional, the decision “ends up pleasing everyone”, as there are many families with children in his concession who rent “hammocks” and deckchairs.

“Look at the case of other countries which, with these bans, have ended up lowering smoking rates, haven’t they? I think it works,” says Tiago Duro.

In the event of resistance, the dealer calls for “common sense” and “talking to the customer”, politely asking him or her to smoke outside the concession area: “Okay, and I think people will eventually adhere,” he asserts.

Tiago Duro recalls that families with children have asked to change “palhota” because there were people smoking next door.

As for the impact of the measure, the dealer believes it will be “positive” in the long term.

Not far away, Christofe Pontes is the Praia Alegre dealer and he too agrees that he should be free to prohibit customers from smoking or not.

“I think the worst thing about people smoking in the concession area isn’t the smoking. The problem here is the tips of the cigarettes in the sand. What would be nice is if nobody smoked on the whole beach. If they wanted to smoke, they’d leave the beach to smoke their cigarettes and keep the beach clean,” he says, asserting that this would be the “ideal” solution.

Christofe Pontes believes that smokers are a minority in the concession area and that the issue should be treated as in the case of restaurants, where smokers should not disturb non-smokers.

Customers of concessions located on beaches also agree with the ban on smoking in these leisure areas.

“I’m against people smoking, especially if they’re next to us,” says Vitália Reis, a Portuguese émigré living in France and vacationing in Quarteira.

“If they don’t smoke, it’s better for them [smokers] and for us,” he stresses.

A Brazilian working in London and on vacation in the Algarve has no doubt either that “the ban is the right measure”.

“I also have a small child and I wouldn’t want him to inhale cigarette smoke on the beach”, he asserts, further criticizing smokers who throw “all the cigarette butts on the ground”.

According to the bill, smoking will also be banned in certain places such as public swimming pools and water parks, on the grounds that these are places of entertainment and recreation frequented by minors and their families.

With this bill, the government intends to abolish the “exceptions currently provided by law to the ban on smoking in enclosed places for collective use”, but maintains those concerning psychiatric wards, treatment and rehabilitation centers for people suffering from addictions and addictive behavior problems, and prisons.

As far as access to tobacco is concerned, the sales ban will be extended to sports halls, swimming pools and water parks, entertainment halls and venues, amusement parks, bingo halls, casinos and gaming halls and other types of non-artistic venues and music festivals, as well as home delivery and itinerant sales.

The sale of tobacco through vending machines in premises within 300 meters of establishments for minors under 18, educational establishments and training centers will now be prohibited, as will the sale of single cigarettes and cigarillos after opening the respective packs.

Contrary to what was initially announced by the government, the law submitted to Parliament no longer provides for a ban on tobacco sales at service stations, a change that Health Minister Manuel Pizarro justified by the lack of alternative purchase options in many places.

The law estimates that in Portugal, over the last decade, more than 100,000 deaths are attributable to tobacco, and warns that all “forms of tobacco are harmful to health and that there is no safe level of exposure”.

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