The rapid spike in new cases of coronavirus infections in Spain has prompted the national government to prohibit smoking and vaping in all public spaces where it is not possible to ensure a 1.5 metre social distance.
Friday’s announcement by health minister Salvador Illa includes a ban on vaping both in the street and in outdoor terraces and bars.
The Ministry of Health says the obligation to wear a face-mask “may only be exempted during the consumption of tobacco or electronic cigarettes on public roads or in outdoor spaces” when it is possible to practice social distancing.
The new nationwide regulation is part of the “Early Response Plan in a COVID-19 pandemic control scenario”. Implementation and enforcement of the new rules will be carried out by regional governments.
Some regions, including Andalusia, have already enforced the new restrictions: from today, 17th August, it is forbidden to smoke or vape in public spaces where social distancing cannot be followed. A €100 fine will be imposed on those failing to comply with the new regulations.
The Spanish Epidemiology Society (SEE) asked the government last month to make all terraces, beaches, open-air shows and cars smoke-free spaces.
The Mesa de Tabaco, an association that represents farmers, manufacturers, tobacconists, employers and unions across the tobacco sector, was critical of the new measure, hower. It said: “This type of high-impact decision must be based on solid scientific evidence and, today, there are no conclusive studies”.
Epidemiologist Fernando Garcia of the National Epidemiology Centre at the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) in Madrid said the ban was “a bit disproportionate” given the lack of evidence that “tobacco can transmit the disease”.
What This Means: Spain is the first European country to impose restrictions on tobacco and vaping amid worries that new cases of coronavirus are severely increasing over the past weeks.
ECigIntelligence believes there are around 475,000 adult vapers in Spain.
– Marta Villena ECigIntelligence contributing writer