Health officials warn of ‘serious consequences’ of resuming smoking on terraces

VALENCIA. Public health professionals oppose lifting the smoking ban on terraces in the Valencian Community. A measure approved due to the pandemic, which was maintained only in the Community, for which the new Consell agreed to equate state rules with regional ones and again give hotel owners the opportunity to decide whether customers can smoke on their terraces.

A measure that has received the “satisfaction” of the Leisure and Hospitality Coordinator of the Valencian Community, as well as a negative view from health organizations such as the Spanish Society for Public Health and Health Management (Sespas). “Tobacco is without a doubt the biggest threat to health. It is a pity that in the Valencian community, distinguished by such a policy, he is a thing of the past, ”he laments. Ildefonso Hernandezprofessor of public health at UMH and representative of Sespas.

“From a scientific and technical point of view, it is logical that we are against the removal of this measure,” Hernandez adds, recalling that there is no “healthy impact of tobacco.” “This is disrespectful to minors and vulnerable people on the terraces who are exposed to smoke and tobacco while eating,” says a Sespas spokesperson, warning that the end of this measure will affect “the normalization of tobacco consumption.”

In this sense, he warns that a small change in the number of smokers has “serious consequences” for health, since it affects “a large mass of the population.” Among these consequences, he lists, among others, short-term cardiovascular disease, asthma attacks, hospitalization and cancer. “Any change – the tendency to smoke – even a small one, is serious, because it affects a large mass of the population,” the professor emphasizes.

Because of these issues, Hernandez advocates the “denormalization” of cigarette consumption, a measure he considers “important” for non-smokers “who will be less and less exposed to smoke and tobacco” but also for smokers as it will enable them to quit. smoke. smoking “with greater ease”. The professor, however, believes that this is a difficult task because “the tobacco industry has long arms and uses various methods and funding to promote tobacco use.”

“Policy should be directed to ensure that the pursuit of profit does not harm the health of the population,” a problem that Hernandez said occurs “not only in the field of tobacco, but also in other areas” such as food, chemicals and mobility. Faced with this situation, the UMH professor assures that Sespas will continue to “fight” to “protect public health and try to ensure that sound policies make room for themselves.”

“Very deserted” with measure

In political matters, Hernandez assures that the toilets feel “very empty” by this measure, as there was “hope” that in this autonomy the ban would be maintained thanks to “the wisdom in preventing smoking.” The spokesperson also notes: “We thought that the new government would also pay attention to sanitary and public health causes, which are supported by more than 60 different organizations in Spain, and will contribute to the preservation of the measures to improve the situation with smoking.”

As for the possible benefit to the hotel sector of being able to light cigarettes on their terraces, Hernandez notes that “there is no scientific evidence for this.” In fact, he assures that a similar situation occurs when he was approved to prevent smoking in bars: “They said there was evidence that it was supposed to prevent business, and it was shown that it was the other way around.”

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