Spain bans outdoor smoking in some regions to curb spread of coronavirus

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2-min read
LUGO, SPAIN - AUGUST 13: A person smokes on the first day of the ban on smoking on public roads in Galicia if there is not a distance of two meters from other people to avoid contagion of COVID-19, on August 13, 2020 in Lugo, Galicia, Spain. As explained yesterday by the president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, experts consider that tobacco smoke is "a factor in the spread" of the virus. Andalusia, Castilla y Leon and Castilla-La Mancha are also studying this restriction. (Photo by Carlos Castro/Europa Press via Getty Images)
A person smokes on the first day of the ban on smoking on public roads in Galicia (Picture: Getty)

Public smoking has been banned in two Spanish regions in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Under a law which came into force on Thursday in the northwestern region of Galicia, smokers are forbidden to remove mandatory face masks to smoke in public if it is not possible to maintain a distance of two metres.

It is believed to be the first such restriction in Europe.

The government of the region said infected smokers could blow droplets carrying the virus while exhaling.

The regional government of Spain's Canary Islands also banned outdoor smoking, which came into effect on Friday along with the mandatory wearing of face masks in all public spaces.

Officials in regions including Madrid and Andalusia said they were considering similar smoking restrictions.

A CORUÑA, SPAIN - AUGUST 13: People are seen walking on the first day of the ban on smoking on public roads in Galicia on August 13, 2020 in A Coruña, Spain. As explained yesterday by the president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, experts consider that tobacco smoke is "a factor in the spread" of the virus. Andalusia, Castilla y Leon and Castilla-La Mancha are also studying this restriction. (Photo by M. Dylan/Europa Press via Getty Images)
People are seen walking in A Coruña, Spain (Picture: Getty)

Spain's regions are responsible for healthcare policy, which has led to a mix of measures to curb the virus.

The new rules come as Spain deals with a rise in COVID-19 cases since 21 June, when it ended its lockdown measures, one of the world's strictest.

Spain, with a population of 47 million, leads Western Europe with more than 337,000 cases, compared with nearly 252,000 cases of Italy's 60 million inhabitants, which was the first European country to be rocked by the virus.

While the smoking bans were applauded by many medical experts, some questioned its effectiveness.

Fernando Garcia, an epidemiologist at the Carlos III institute for health, told AFP the measure was "a bit disproportionate" given the lack of evidence that "tobacco smoke can transmit the disease".

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said tobacco users could increase the possibility of transmission of the disease since it involves contact of fingers with the lips.

Outside Europe, South Africa has banned the sale of tobacco because it may lead people to drop social distancing while Jordan banned smoking in closed public spaces.

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