No smoking on Barcelona beaches as of July

City Council makes positive assessment of last summer's pilot test and will change the ordinance to extend the ban

3 min
A girl smokes a cigarette on the beach in Barcelona

BarcelonaBarcelona City Council will make changes to the public space ordinance to ban smoking on all the city's beaches. As councillor for Climate Emergency Eloi Badia explained, there is already a political agreement for this new ban and the ordinance change may be applied in early July.

The measure was already tested last summer in a pilot test banning smoking on four beaches in the city. "We are very satisfied with the result," said Badia, who celebrated that not only fewer cigarette butts had to be picked up from the sand, but that users showed a high degree of satisfaction with the measure, giving it a score of 8 out of 10. 20% of the population smokes in Barcelona, but only 10% do so on the beach. Last summer, on the beaches where smoking was banned, the percentage was even lower, with only 3% of bathers lighting up. Badia recalled that the measure "is for health and the environment", since cigarette butts end up in the sea and are highly polluting. In fact, it is estimated that they take 10 years to disappear.

The councillor for Health, Aging and Care, Gemma Tarafa, hoped that the ban would help smokers to quit this harmful habit and stressed that the measure "also has an impact on people who do not smoke," as they will not have to put up with the smoke of others. Tarafa stressed that Barcelona is a "pioneer" in the application of this measure and recalled that the state government is preparing a new law to ban smoking in places where smoking is currently allowed and, in principle, beaches will be affected. The regulation could be approved by the end of this year.

Although the ban on smoking on the beaches of Barcelona will not be effective until July, which is when the government expects to have modified the ordinance, the communication campaign to prepare bathers will begin earlier. The City Council is confident that, between the information campaign and citizens' observance, it will not be necessary to impose fines for smoking in these spaces. However, if an officer calls out a smoker and they do not put the cigarette out, they will have to pay a €30 fine. It is the same amount as the fine for people who smoke in playgrounds. "Whoever wants to smoke will have to go to the promenade," said Badia.

Replenish the sand

The storms that hit the beaches of Barcelona, as happens in many other coastal municipalities, end up taking away a lot of sand that has to be replaced. This replacement, however, which is the responsibility of the State, has not been done since 2010. According to Badia, the City Council has reached an agreement with the State government to ensure that the city's beaches "regain their full sand potential". The procedures have already begun, but according to Badia's calculations, the sand, which will go to the bottom of the sea, will not be replenished until the summer of 2024. In the meantime, as has been done in recent years, the City Council will have to make "adjustments" to try to ensure that the people of Barcelona do not run out of sand.

A cigarette butt on the beach in Barcelona

As for the beach bars, the councillor recalled that there were problems in the public tender and that some of the companies that won and obtained permission to manage them ended up backing out. Thus, of the 12 beach bars available, seven will open this Saturday (which is when the beach season begins) and two more will open after Easter. Three beach bars will remain unopened, but, as Badia explained, the City Council will promote "an express process" to get them ready for San Juan. At beach bars, by the way, it will be possible to continue smoking.

The dog beach, in the Llevant area, will continue to operate as before and, as a novelty this season, will try to regulate the practice of surfing, which is currently "illegal", as explained by Sports councillor David Escudé.