BARCELONA – Terraces, bus stops and entrances and exits of schools in Catalonia are being transformed into “non-smoking areas”. Regional Health Minister Argimon has announced the new rules.
“We are preparing a regulation that will make specific areas smoke-free, such as the entrances and exits of schools where we often smoke while waiting for the little ones and the terraces,” he announced in an interview on TV3 on Friday.
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The minister explained that there should be a “transitional period”, but did not provide further details on the details of the regulation. This is expected to be discussed in the Catalan parliament in October.
Number of smokers is no longer decreasing
The measure responds to the stagnation that can be seen in the decrease in smokers. According to a survey of the population presented in July, 22.6% of adults in Catalonia smoke. This concerns more than one in four men (26.6%) and 18.8% of women aged 15 to 44.
Between 1990 and 2017, smoking decreased from 33.7% to 24% of the adult population. However, then the decline stopped. Public health attributes 10,000 annual deaths to tobacco-derived pathologies.
Free nicotine replacements for low incomes
An additional measure in this regard will be that from January 2023 the partial government will offer free nicotine replacements. This will be offered to people with an income of under €18,000 who want to stop smoking. These drugs “double or more” the success of smoking cessation attempts.
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Argimon explained that the treatment costs about €300. However, for many people that is too much. Therefore, the plan is to reimburse this amount in one lump sum or two parts to low-income smokers. According to the minister’s data, it is estimated that there are between 600,000 and 700,000 smokers with an income of fewer than €18,000.
Argimon also predicted an increase in Covid-19 infections in his interview. He added that he foresees that this will not mean an increase in the severity of the disease. “A bit like the last two or three months we’ve had an increase in the number of infections. There was a lot of infection but we didn’t have people in the ICU.”
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