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This summer the air and the sand on Barcelona's beaches will be notably cleaner

Barcelona – the first city in Spain to ban smoking on beaches

Barcelona – the first city in Spain to ban smoking on beaches

A cigarette butt left in the sand takes a decade to degrade

Following a successful pilot project during the 2021 tourist season, the authorities in Barcelona have decided to extend the ban on smoking to all of the 10 municipal beaches starting 1 July. This means that beachgoers in the city can now enjoy a smoke-free environment, which will bring a dual benefit of healthier air and cleaner sands.

Citizens’ approval and reduced waste

The historic municipal decision to ban tobacco on the beach makes Barcelona the first city in Spain to implement such a measure.

The city council has opted for the drastic step of eradicating tobacco from the beaches so that they can provide a public space for "healthier coexistence, with less waste and respectful of the environment", with the statement quoted by El Periodico. The measure, which due to its scope is described as "pioneering" is based on the reasoning that a cigarette butt is a waste that takes a decade to degrade.

As a precedent, the city council argued that the pilot test of smoke-free beaches (Sant Miquel, Somorrostro, Nova Icaria and Nova Mar Bella) received a satisfaction rating of 8 out of 10 from users a year ago. This also meant a reduction in smokers on these coastal stretches (almost seven times less compared to before) and a decrease in cigarette butts.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable mortality, and its residues have a serious impact on the environment. Cigarette filters are the second most common disposed item on beaches and their accumulation is not only unsightly, but it contributes to the gradual degradation of these leisure areas.

And yes, there will be fines for infractors.  A penalty equivalent to that of other public spaces, such as smoking on playgrounds, of about 30 euros will be applied. However, there will be a bit of leeway as the police will only fine the smokers if they continue smoking after having been warned once.

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