Government wants to ban the sale of tobacco in vending machines by 2025

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The sale of tobacco in vending machines will be prohibited in 2025 and this year it will be forbidden to smoke in outdoor spaces near public buildings such as schools, colleges or hospitals, according to a proposed law.

If the Government’s bill is approved by Parliament, it will no longer be possible to sell tobacco directly or through vending machines in places such as restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, casinos, bingo halls, gambling halls, fairs, and exhibitions.

Also at music festivals, where there is “a very aggressive marketing in the sense of promoting the purchase and use of tobacco and even other tobacco products, namely heated tobacco, it will be forbidden to sell these products,” revealed the Secretary of State for Health Promotion, Margarida Tavares, to the Lusa news agency.

The goal is to restrict the sale of tobacco to tobacconists or similar outlets and at airports as of January 2025.

According to the governor, the changes to the Tobacco Law, which should be approved on Thursday in the Council of Ministers, were motivated essentially by the need to transpose into national legislation the European directive of June 29, 2022, which equates heated tobacco with other tobacco products, prohibiting the sale of heated flavored tobacco.

However, he stressed, “the focus is really on health promotion,” which involves “discouraging tobacco consumption and also reducing the possibility of access to tobacco, that is, the sale of tobacco.

Therefore, the rules regarding smoking in enclosed spaces with public access, where there are already “major restrictions,” will be tightened.

“Basically there are no longer any places where smoking is possible”, with the exception of some spaces, such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs, which installed in January of this year, as a result of the legislation, equipment that allows “having separate and protected spaces for smokers” and which they can keep until 2030.

There are also “very specific” exceptions such as airports or other places where it is not possible to smoke elsewhere.

Margarida Tavares highlighted as the “most revolutionary” change the restriction on the possibility of smoking in outdoor spaces, within the perimeters where buildings with public access are installed, such as hospitals, health centers, schools or colleges, a measure that should come into force on October 23rd, the deadline for the directive to come into force.

“In some places, such as prisons, it might be a little unfair to do the same thing,” he said, explaining that it is possible to set up a designated smoking area.

The governor explained that the intention is to create more and more environments that “guarantee that people have the best options for their health,” but also to discourage tobacco consumption and limit access, especially for young people, so that they don’t start smoking.

“We want to create a tobacco-free generation by 2040 and we really believe this is possible,” he said, stressing that the path that has been taken in Portugal and other countries has yielded results.

Since the Tobacco Law went into effect in 2007, he pointed out, “many things have changed,” with a “very important” reduction in prevalence and initiation of tobacco.

In 2005/2006, the prevalence was 20.9% smokers (over 30% in men and about 12% in women, a figure that dropped to 20% in 2014 (28% in men, 13% in women) and to 19% in 2019 (24% in men and 11% in women).

“We implemented restrictions on places where you can smoke and places where you can sell tobacco, as well as other warnings that were placed and this had a very significant impact, particularly on young people,” he stressed, recalling a study by the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto, which found that in 2003, 19.9% of 13-year-olds had already tried tobacco, while in 2018 only 3.9% had done so.

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