Barcelona passed through its first smoke-free beach summer with flying colours, Source: Unsplash

Barcelona’s first no-smoking-on-beach summer ended without a single fine

Barcelona’s first no-smoking-on-beach summer ended without a single fine

Even smokers felt positive about the change and supported the new policy

Now that the summer of 2022 is officially in wraps it’s time to look back and tally the results. In the case of Barcelona’s first full season with a smoking ban on the city’s beaches – it went better than expected since no fines were handed out by the authorities for lighting up on the sand.

The reason for that wasn’t that there were no infractors caught in the act, but rather because the policy pursued by the control authorities consisted of two steps: first warn, and only fine (up to 30 euros) in case of non-compliance. It turns out, all the beachgoers who lit a cigarette either put it out immediately or moved to the street to finish their smoke.

Summer of records

Eloi Badia, Barcelona's councillor for climate emergency and environmental transition highlighted that the law outweighed expectations as eight out of 10 citizens, whether they smoke or not, believed the prohibition was a positive thing.

In fact, the citizens seem to have been informed and aware of the new ordinance in place, and not the least because there were well-placed signs on the beaches. In fact, the prohibition seems to have not spoiled anyone’s mood, as the figures in several respects are better than expected.

In 2021 authorities did a pilot test on four beaches. Back then, the number of smokers was reduced to 3%, while this year, it dropped to 0.97%, according to Barcelona's beaches' information services.

What’s more, almost five million people went to the beach from 9 April to 25 September, a record number not seen since 2016. In July alone, over 1.5 million people went to the beaches in Barcelona, making it the month with the highest attendance this summer.

It turns out that ban or no ban, people were just happy to return to normality and outdoors after two years of pandemic uncertainty. However, 72% of beachgoers also reported seeing some cigarette butts, something the city council believes is because of beach parties at night. 



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU