Portugal’s government introduced legislation on Thursday to extend the smoking ban to outdoor areas, including covered terraces, and restrict tobacco sales as it hopes to increase the tobacco-free generation by 2040.
“With this amendment, we will start today to protect tomorrow’s adults,” Health Minister Manuel Pizarro told a news conference, rejecting criticism from some business groups who say the measures are too harsh and discriminatory.
If approved by parliament, where the Socialists have a majority, smoking near public buildings such as schools, universities, hospitals or sports facilities, outside restaurants, bars and cafes will be banned from 23 October.
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Restaurants, bars and nightclubs that have designated smoking-only areas will be able to maintain them until 2030.
From 2025, only licensed tobacconists and airport shops will be able to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products, which means that vending machines, bars, restaurants and gas stations will no longer be able to offer them.
Under a European Union directive, Portugal is also changing the law to equate heated tobacco products with conventional tobacco. The sale of flavored heated tobacco will be prohibited.
The head of the PRO.VAR restaurant association, Daniel Serra, said the measures are taking away a source of revenue from small, often struggling businesses. The national association of fuel dealers, who operate gas stations, called the plan unfair and disproportionate.
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A pack of cigarettes in Portugal costs around $5.50 – one of the lowest prices in Western Europe. Some argue that the government should raise the tobacco tax, but Pizarro said this was not a priority as prices above a certain level would simply encourage smuggling.
According to the government, about two-thirds of deaths among smokers are attributable to tobacco use, and smokers live 10 years less than the average non-smoker. It is estimated that in 2019 around 13,500 deaths were caused by tobacco in Portugal, which has a population of around 10 million.