A draft bill drawn up by the government will, from January 2017, see the current tobacco ban extended to all new products such as electronic cigarettes, as well as prohibiting smoking near school and hospital gates, doors and windows.
The proposal has been penned by the leftist majority government and therefore looks certain to be passed.
On 1 January 2008, smoking tobacco was banned in Portugal in most enclosed spaces.
Exceptions to the carpet ban are allowed in the cases of enclosed eating and drinking establishments such as restaurants, cafés and bars, not frequented by under-18s, “if the smoking area is physically separated from the non-smoking area or where ventilation and air extraction systems directed toward the exterior are effective to the point of preventing smoke from entering the non-smoking area.”
It further stipulates that “in the case of establishments with a floor area of more than 100 square metres, no more than 40 percent (if physically separated) or 30 percent otherwise may be designated a smoking area.”
A study published in 2011 by the Ministry of Health showed 90 percent compliance with the law in establishments with a total smoking ban, but only 50 percent compliance in establishments where smoking is partly or wholly permitted.
However, when the new bill comes into force, this ban will extend to all new electronic smoking devices, such as electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, and vapourisers, which until now have evaded the traditional tobacco rule.
The new bill further demands that packaging for e-cigs carries warnings of the harmful effects such products can have on health, which must cover 30 percent of the package’s most visible surfaces.
Newspaper Público, which claims to have seen the draft bill, reports that the new law intends to “protect citizens from involuntary exposure to secondary tobacco smoke” and create measures “to reduce demand related to smoking dependency and quitting its consumption”, which drives the use of “new combustion-free smoking products that produce aerosols, vapours, gases or inhalable particles.”
It further aims to “strengthen the measures to be applied to these new products and exposure to environmental smoke, advertising and promotion.”
For this, the government further aims to ban all “commercial allegations” that one particular type of tobacco product is potentially less harmful than others or presents a reduced risk to the consumer’s health.
WebPages that “inform, divulge or promote tobacco products” will become illegal, while “advertising and promotion of devices or refills” including “rolling paper, electronic devices to heat tobacco and other devices or accessories necessary for the use of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and herbal products for smoking” will further be banned.
While the effects on health of the new generation of smoking products like e-cigarettes are not yet known “in a robust and scientifically proven” way, the Portuguese government says it wants studies conducted into the matter to better inform the consumer and has adopted a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach.
Manufacturers and importers of the products are therefore to be asked to “carry out reports on the results of existing studies” that should include a summary and a detailed compilation of the available scientific literature” on them.
There reports will be required within the 18 months after the new legislation comes into effect.
And in a bid to slash the effects of involuntary passive smoking, particularly among under-18s, the government is also clamping down on smoking outside and around the entrances to buildings such as schools and hospitals, as well as near windows and doors, although the new law does not establish what the minimum distance should be.