If the Government's bill is approved by the Assembly of the Republic, it will no longer be possible to sell tobacco directly or through vending machines in places such as restaurants, bars, concert halls and venues, casinos, fairs and exhibitions.
Also at music festivals, where there is “very aggressive marketing to promote the purchase and use of tobacco and even other tobacco products, namely heated tobacco, it will be prohibited to sell these products”, revealed the Secretary of State for Health Promotion, Margarida Tavares.
The objective is to restrict the sale of tobacco to tobacconists or similar establishments and at airports from January 2025.
According to the official, the changes to the Tobacco Law, which should be approved on Thursday by the Council of Ministers, were essentially motivated by the need to transpose into national legislation the European directive, of June 29, 2022, which equates heated tobacco to other tobacco products, banning the sale of flavoured heated tobacco.
However, he stressed, "the focus is really on health promotion", which involves "disincentives for tobacco consumption and also reducing the possibility of access to tobacco, that is, the sale of tobacco".
Therefore, the rules regarding smoking in closed spaces with public access, where there are already “great restrictions”, will be tightened.
“Basically, there are no longer any places where you can smoke”, with the exception of some spaces, such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs, which were installed in January of this year, as a result of legislation that allows places “to have separate and protected spaces for smokers” and which they will be able to maintain until 2030.
There are also “very specific” exceptions such as airports or other places where it is not possible to go somewhere else to smoke.
Margarida Tavares highlighted as the "most revolutionary" alteration the restriction of the possibility of smoking in outdoor spaces, within the perimeters where buildings with public access are installed, such as hospitals, health centres, schools or colleges, a measure that should enter into force on 23 October.
“In some places, such as prisons, perhaps it would be a little unfair for us to do the same thing”, she said, explaining that it is possible to delimit a properly marked space where it is possible to smoke.
“We want to create a tobacco-free generation by 2040 and we really believe that this is possible”, she said.
Since the Tobacco Law came into force in 2007, she noted, “many things have changed”, with a “very important” reduction in the prevalence and initiation of tobacco use.
In 2005/2006, the prevalence was 20.9% of smokers (more than 30% in men and around 12% in women, a figure that dropped to 20% in 2014 (28% in men, 13% in women) and to 19% in 2019 (24% in men and 11% in women).
“We were implementing restrictions on places where it is possible to smoke and on points of sale, as well as other warnings that were placed and this had a very significant impact, particularly on young people”, she stressed, recalling a study by the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto which found that, in 2003, 19.9% of young people aged 13 had already tried tobacco, while in 2018 only 3.9% had done so.