Spain Approves New Anti-Smoking Plan With Tax Hike And Extra ‘Deterrent’ Measures


By Fernando Heller

(EurActiv) — Expanding the number of places where smoking is prohibited, providing for a sharp increase in tobacco taxes, and putting vapers on the same footing as conventional smokers are among the main “deterrent” measures included in Spain’s new anti-smoking plan.

The document, approved on Friday (5 April) by the Spanish Health Ministry, will be included in a new legislative package to be formally approved in Parliament, Euractiv’s partner EFE reported.

“As of today (Friday), this plan is a reality and this achievement is a source of national pride”, stressed Health Minister Monica Garcia, a member of the left-wing Sumar platform, a junior partner in Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s (PSOE/S&D) coalition government.

In practical terms, the text is an updated roadmap that will guide Spain’s legal changes, aiming at reducing the number of smokers, protect public health and preventing new tobacco consumers.

The current plan is 14 years old and an update was considered necessary given the development of alternatives to tobacco and the EU-wide commitment to have a tobacco-free generation by 2040.

Tobacco kills approximately 54,000 people a year in Spain and 27.5% of these deaths (more than 14,000 in absolute numbers) are due to cardiovascular diseases, including diabetes, according to data from the Spanish Society of Cardiology (SEC) and the Spanish Heart Foundation (FEC).

The comprehensive Plan for the Prevention and Control of Smoking 2024-2027 has five main objectives:

Among them: preventing the onset of smoking, encouraging smoking cessation and facilitating help to stop smoking, reducing environmental exposure to tobacco emissions and related products in public and private spaces, and promoting applied research and monitoring in tobacco control, as well as promoting coordination and the establishment of anti-tobacco alliances.

One of the most controversial points is whether, in the near future, smoking will be banned on bar and restaurant terraces, bearing in mind that Spain is one of the most tourist-oriented countries in the world and the leisure and tourism sector accounts for 13% of its national GDP.

Public spaces and more taxes

In this sense, the plan approved by the Ministry of Health includes the “legislative extension of smoke-free and e-cigarette aerosol-free spaces in certain community and social outdoor environments”.

For the time being, there will be no ban, but only a “recommendation” not to smoke in these public spaces.

On the other hand, although the government wanted a ban on smoking in private spaces such as the car or the home, especially if minors are present, this measure is on hold for the time being.

Among the concrete measures to incentivise a reduction in consumption is an increase in tobacco taxes. Since 2005, tobacco taxes in Spain have risen by 122%, nevertheless more tax is foreseen.

The most commonly sold pack of tobacco in Spain costs around € 4.80, of which 78.4% (€ 3.76) is tax.

Another “deterrent” measure in the new plan is that tobacco packets will in future have generic or neutral packaging. This means that all packets will be the same, with an unattractive colour, such as grey-green, and the brand name in Arial typeface and in a smaller font allowing a larger font for the health warnings “smoking kills” or “tobacco kills”.

The plan also envisages banning additives that “give flavours to tobacco and related products (in line with what the EU agrees)”.


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