Spain is the first country in Europe to ban smoking on all of its beaches after the government passed a new law following a public petition.
From now on, anyone caught lighting up on a beach is set to be hit with a hefty €2000 ($USD 2258) fine. A ban is already in place in Barcelona and the Canary Islands, where smoking on popular tourist beaches is prohibited.
A petition in Spain that led to the smoking ban
The move comes in a bid to clean up pollution on the country’s 3000 miles of coastline. The new law passed on December 23 followed a petition of 283,000 names demanding action on beach pollution was handed to the Spanish government. Cigarette butts are a hazard on many beaches, as they contain non-biodegradable plastic polymer. The European Environment Agency found cigarette butts among the most common items littering Europe's beaches. As well as contaminating the soil, they are also extremely harmful if swallowed by sea life. Sardinia in Italy and some areas in southern France have already banned smoking on their beaches.
Spain's other bans on smoking
In 2020 in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, Spain banned smoking in outdoor public spaces where people can't maintain a social distance of at least six feet. Galicia, in northwestern Spain, first introduced a ban on smoking in streets, bars and restaurants and this was adopted by the country’s health minister and brought in nationally.
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has set a target for Spain to be carbon neutral by 2050.
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