Barcelona has announced smoking ban on its beaches from July, and Catalonia’s regional government is considering introducing a new tax of 20 eurocent per cigarette butt bought.
Catalonia determined to stub out smoking
Barcelona has announced a smoking ban on beaches from July after a successful pilot project, and Catalonia’s regional government is considering introducing a new tax of 20 eurocent per cigarette, which could generate more than €150 million a year to spend on raising awareness and clean-up operations.
Barcelona announces smoking ban on its beaches from July after successful pilot project
Holidaymakers in Barcelona will no longer have to contend with cigarette butts or passive smoke starting in July when Spain’s second largest city will ban smoking on all its beaches, according to a report by WalesOnline last month. Authorities in the Spanish city said the move follows a pilot project last year when smoking was outlawed on four of the city’s 10 local beaches.
A statement said: "Beaches with no smoking allowed will offer healthier communal living areas, with less waste and will respect the defence of environment."
Several Spanish regions imposed bans in 2020 to clamp down on the spread of Covid-19, while others like the Balearic Islands, including Majorca, had already adopted the measure before the pandemic for environmental reasons. The Canary Islands, Andalusia, Galicia and Valencia have all introduced partial or total bans of smoking on their beaches.
Catalonia considers a tax on cigarettes to encourage smokers to recycle the butts
The Catalonian regional government is considering introducing a new tax of 20 euro cent per cigarette, to encourage people to return their cigarette butts so they can be recycled. Part of the tax would be refunded when they handed over the cigarette ends, explained the director of l’Agència de Residus de Catalunya, Isaac Peraire, in an interview on Tuesday 17 May, 2022.
The tax could generate more than €150 million a year to spend on raising awareness and clean-up operations.
“The aim is to avoid the current situation, where 70% of cigarette ends generated in Catalonia end up thrown on the floor or into the sea,” he said, before insisting that this is not a way for the government to make money.
According to initial estimates from the region’s Ministry of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda, if someone returns 90% of their cigarette ends for recycling, they could receive 926.65 euros a year back as a refund, while the Generalitat would have 154.44 million euros a year to spend on raising awareness and clean-up operations.
Sources there say the amount of 20 euro cent per cigarette has been decided upon after studies were carried out into the scheme.
Peraire did not rule out the idea that the cigarette ends could be returned to tobacconists or other places where cigarettes are sold, as well as to recycling points.
The Catalonian government, which considers that measures put into effect until now have had hardly any effect, is also thinking of including this initiative in its new Law of Residues, which would also put a stop to single-use plastics, eradicate unnecessary food packaging and do away with microplastics.
Spanish government proposes cigarette manufacturers pay cost of sweeping up butts
According to the EU, cigarette butts are the second-most common single-use plastic found on European beaches – and the environmental organisation Ocean Conservancy says that of all the rubbish thrown into the sea, butts are the most numerous.
Spain’s Socialist-led coalition government is also planning to overhaul the country’s smoking laws to make it illegal to light up on the outside terraces of bars and restaurants, on beaches, and at open-air sports venues.
“The idea isn’t to generate income but to reduce the environmental impact of these products,” Peraire said. “It’s hoped that one day this measure will cease to be necessary because the problem will have disappeared.”
Meanwhile, the Spanish government is proposing that cigarette manufacturers should pay the cost of sweeping up butts and should educate the public not to discard them because they contain an environmentally damaging cellulose acetate.
Andrés Zamorano, the president of the National Committee for the Prevention of Tobacco Use, said he was in favour of the measure because “tobacco comes at a high cost, not just from an environmental point of view, but because it pollutes public spaces”.
Zamorano conceded, however, that tobacco companies were likely to add the clean-up cost to the price of their products.
Ismael Aznar Cano, director general for quality and assessment at Spain’s environment ministry, said the proposal came within the context of a law on waste due to take effect at the start of 2023.