BRIT holidaymakers who flout a new smoking ban on the Costa del Sol have been warned they face massive £2,700 fines.
The new law, announced last week, prevents people from lighting up in public when social distancing of six feet cannot be guaranteed.
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Smokers in Andalucia face huge fines if they flout the smoking ban[/caption]
The standard fine is €100 (£90) but the worst offenders deemed to have caused the maximum damage to public health will be hit with a €3,000 (£2712) penalty, according to Malaga-based daily Sur.
Each of Spain’s region decided when to bring in the prohibition and was able to determine the size of fines.
The regional government of Andalucia, which covers areas like the Costa del Sol, began to apply the measure yesterday.
Additional measures to halt the spike of new Covid-19 cases, including the closure of discos and late-night bars and new rules forcing restaurants to close at 1am, were also brought in on the same day.
The smoking ban covers public places where social distancing can’t be guaranteed [/caption]
Health officials are worried droplets exhaled by smokers can spread coronavirus [/caption]
Electronic cigarettes and hookahs are also covered by the smoking ban.
Spain has reported 382,142 cases of Covid-19 and the country has been on the UK quarantine list on July 26.
Seville – the capital of Andalucia and its largest city – is seeing the majority of new outbreaks, followed by Malaga, with at least 36 new outbreaks on the Costa del Sol.
Health officials have justified the fines by saying droplets expelled by smokers helps to spread coronavirus.
Spain’s outdoor smoking ban
Spanish health officials say smokers who have coronavirus could blow their droplets towards other people, allowing the virus to spread.
Smokers are also unlikely to be wearing a mask, which may increase the risk of transmission in itself.
The World Health Organisation also says that smoking is a coronavirus risk because it involves “contact of fingers with the lips, which increases the possibility of the transmission of viruses from hand to mouth”.
Outside Europe, South Africa has banned the sale of tobacco because it may lead people to drop social distancing while Jordan has banned smoking in closed public spaces.
While the smoking bans were applauded by many medical experts, some questioned its effectiveness.
Spain is believed to be the first country in Europe to ban public smoking to tackle the coronavirus.
Fernando Garcia, an epidemiologist at the Carlos III institute for health, said the measure was “a bit disproportionate” given the lack of evidence that “tobacco smoke can transmit the disease”.
Smoking also involves repeated mouth and finger contact which is also harmful in the fight against Covid-19.
The number of fines handed out in the province of Malaga, which covers the Costa del Sol, has not yet been made public.
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It is understood police have been told to warn people in the first few days against smoking in the street and places like cafe terraces where social distancing is not guaranteed before issuing fines.
Bars and other businesses that allow people to flout the public smoking ban have been warned they will also face fines.
They have however not been told how to report customers who have ignored requests to put out their cigarettes.