Will Venice ban smoking in its historic centre?

Visitors to Venice have already been subjected to a number of regulations, and now the popular Italian city is considering converting streets and squares in its historic centre into smoke-free zones.

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The mayor of Venice is considering introducing smoke-free zones. Image: energyy/Getty Images

The idea was inspired by Mayor Luigi Brugnaro's visit to Japan, where various kinds of anti-smoking laws have been implemented, including banning smoking while walking on busy streets and in certain areas. Speaking at an Italian mayors’ forum in Rome, Brugnaro explained that the potential ban would begin in some areas of the historic centre where crowds gather, like Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square.

Venice's Grand Canal at dusk
The potential ban would begin in some areas of the historic centre where crowds gather, like Rialto Bridge. Image: Matt Munro/Lonely Planet

If the measure was to be introduced, it would affect locals as well as Venice's 20 million annual visitors, as around a quarter of all Italian adults smoke, including Brugnaro himself. “I’m speaking as someone who enjoys the occasional cigar, but I always try to avoid smoking when there are lots of people around, even if I’m out in the open,” he said. “A ban on smoking would help to make Venice cleaner.”

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The mayor was inspired after seeing no-smoking areas in Japan. Image: BSIP / Contributor

In his speech, the mayor also revealed that a plan to hand out small plastic bags for visitors to dispose of their cigarette butts is under consideration. If these new measures are implemented, they are likely to be firmly enforced as Mayor Brugnaro is known to take a dim view of visitors who don't respect the rules the city has implemented. Two backpackers who were asked to leave the city after they took out their portable stove to make themselves a hot beverage can testify to the consequences of transgressing the regulations.