New law bans smoking in swimming pools, but provides exceptions

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The law also allows for the “establishment of smoking rooms in airports, railway stations, passenger bus stations, and at sea and river terminals for transit passengers.”

The new tobacco law, which entered parliament this Friday, foresees a ban on smoking in public swimming pools and water parks, but allows exceptions for psychiatric services, addiction treatment centers, and prisons.

With this bill, the government intends to eliminate the “exceptions currently provided by law to the ban on smoking in enclosed places of collective use,” but keeps those that cover psychiatric services, treatment and rehabilitation centers for people with addiction and addictive behavior problems, and prisons.

The law claims that “users of these spaces and inmates may find it difficult, or even impossible, to comply with restrictions on tobacco smoking” and that, in the case of prisons, cells or dormitories can even be created for smoking inmates, as long as they meet several requirements provided by law.

This exception allows smoking in outdoor areas, which have to be previously defined and marked, with conditions to minimize the exposure of third parties to environmental smoke and so that the emissions do not affect the air in the respective closed areas.

“It is also permitted to create smoking rooms in airports, railway stations, passenger bus stations, and in maritime and river stations for transit passengers, equipped with ventilation in accordance with the rules provided,” the bill states.

Regarding the places that have created smoking rooms, and that will be covered by the total smoking ban, the law provides a transitional regime until January 1, 2030. The government also intends to institute a smoking ban in public swimming pools and water parks, claiming that these are places of entertainment and stay frequented by minors and their families.

Smoking is also now prohibited in the enclosed areas of automatic cash draw nets, as well as “on sea, river and lake beaches [lakes]” if determined by the management, administration or concession holder.

In general, the law provides for a ban on smoking in outdoor areas of establishments of any level of education, training centers and sports venues, and in services and places where health care is provided, as they are “frequented by children, people in training, people in sports practices or sick people, particularly vulnerable to exposure to environmental smoke.

As for access to tobacco, the ban on sales will be extended to sports venues, swimming pools and water parks, performance halls and venues, amusement parks, bingo halls, casinos and gambling halls, and other venues for non-artistic performances and music festivals, as well as home delivery and itinerant sales.

“Given that tobacco vending machines allow easy access to young people,” the law restricts the sale of tobacco through these machines in most places where smoking is prohibited, with the exception of tobacco shops, airports, maritime stations, and railway stations.

Two women taking a selfie in a jacuzzi
Two women taking a selfie in a jacuzzi

The sale of tobacco through vending machines in places less than 300 meters from establishments for minors under 18 years of age, educational establishments and training centers and the sale of cigarettes and cigarillos by the unit after opening the respective packages is now prohibited.

Contrary to what was initially announced by the government, the law now delivered to parliament no longer foresees a ban on the sale of tobacco at gas stations, a change that the health minister justified today with the lack of alternatives for acquisition in many locations.

“If the idea of prohibiting the sale at gas stations was carried out, there would be many places where the place to buy tobacco would be too far away”, justified Manuel Pizarro, exemplifying that people who for work reasons could only buy tobacco at night would be without supply. The law estimates that in Portugal, in the last decade, more than 100,000 deaths are attributable to tobacco and warns that all “forms of tobacco are harmful to health, and there is no safe level of exposure.

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