Banning smoking in all restaurants, bars and night clubs in Portugal could become a reality this year as the government updates the smoking regulations that came into effect in 2008 with proposals due to be heard at a meeting on 26 January.
José Calheiros, a member of the Health Authority’s technical consultancy council, which will put forward the proposals to update the law, told Diário de Noticias that “apart from some industries and associations linked to catering, hotels and tourism, we are all in favour of a total ban. This is the only way to save lives without any costs.”
Before the end of 2010, the council, which includes associations, unions and health, tourism and catering organisations, among others, met to discuss the legislation on smoking. The current law, which came into effect in 2008 foresaw that a report about its results would be carried out after three years and the law revised if necessary.
Luís Rebelo, President of the Portuguese Confederation for Smoking Prevention said: “The majority of advisors defend further restrictions in the law. We have to defend those who do not smoke and help those who want to quit.”
The General Director for Health, Francisco George however said that no proposals have as yet been defined. “Only after knowing the results of the report will we be able to do that,” he said, adding that there are also those who do not want the law to become any stricter. In any case, “the proposal that has been made will have to be approved by the government and then by the MPs”.
Ana Jacinto, spokeswoman for Portugal’s hotel and restaurant association told Lusa News Agency: “the law shouldn’t be touched. It caused confusion at the start, and now that the situation is stable and some business owners have made investments [to ensure their establishments abide by the laws] we don’t agree that it should be changed.”
Inspections of the smoking laws will also be discussed. According to Francisco George, the current level of inspection is not enough. “It cannot only be ASAE inspecting,” he said, adding that a solution could involve the public health authorities as smoking is a public health issue.