Portugal could start banning smoking in outdoor areas, limit tobacco sales

The Portuguese government on Thursday unveiled legislation to extend the smoking ban to outdoor areas, including covered terraces, and to limit tobacco sales, as it hopes to raise a tobacco-free generation by 2040.

“With this amendment, we will start protecting tomorrow’s adults today,” Health Minister Manuel Pizarro said at a press conference, rejecting criticism from some business groups who say the measures are too harsh and discriminatory.

If approved by parliament, where the socialists in government have a majority, smoking will be banned from 23 October near public buildings such as schools, universities, hospitals or sports facilities, restaurants, bars and cafes.


Restaurants, bars and nightclubs that have dedicated smoking areas with adequate insulation will be able to maintain them until 2030.

From 2025, only authorized tobacconists and airport shops will be able to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products, which means that vending machines, bars, restaurants and petrol stations will no longer be able to offer them.

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A pastry chef smokes while talking on the phone in central Lisbon April 2, 2014. Smoking outdoors could soon be banned in Portugal under legislation unveiled on Thursday. (REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photos)

Under a European Union directive, Portugal is also amending the law to make heated tobacco products equivalent to conventional tobacco. The sale of flavored heated tobacco will be banned.

The head of the PRO.VAR restaurant association, Daniel Serra, said the measures were taking away a source of income from small, often struggling businesses. The national association of fuel retailers, who operate petrol stations, called the plan unfair and disproportionate.


A pack of cigarettes in Portugal costs around $5.50, one of the lowest prices in Western Europe. Some argue the government should raise the tobacco tax instead, but Pizarro said that’s not a priority as prices beyond 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 an average of 10 years less than a non-smoker. An estimated 13,500 deaths in 2019 were due to tobacco in Portugal, which has a population of around 10 million.


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