A petition signed by more than 283,000 people calling on Spain to ban smoking on all its beaches has been handed to the country’s Minister of the Environment.
For more than two years, the organization No Fumadores (No Smokers) collect signatures aimed at transforming the 3,084 miles (4,964 km) of Spanish coastline into areas free from cigarette smoke and discarded cigarette butts.
The petition, handed over to Minister Teresa Ribera, calls on the government to introduce national legislation on the issue, Raquel Fernández Megina of No Fumadores said in a statement released Friday. The hundreds of thousands of signatures gathered, she added, “send the message that we can no longer wait.”
This would protect beach goers from the effects of secondhand smoke while curbing the ubiquitous cigarette butts that litter many beaches across the country, Fernández Megina said. Some 475 beaches in Spain already have been declared smoke-free, depending on the organization.
A 2018 analysis published by the European Environment Agency Suggested cigarette butts and filters were among the most common items found on beaches in Europe. Their misdeeds were widely documented by scientists; to warn that nicotine, heavy metals and benzene in cigarette butts can infiltrate, contaminating soil and aquatic environments, and which filters represent severe ingestion and entanglement risk to marine fauna.
The demand for No Fumadores comes as Spain prepares for what many hope will be a rebound in tourism. Spain will lift restrictions on tourists from the UK on Monday, although Spain remains on the UK’s orange list. From June 7, Spain plans to open its doors to all vaccinated travelers.
In recent months, the rules these tourists will have to follow when they arrive in Spain have sparked heated debate. In April, Spanish health authorities clarified that face masks would not be mandatory when swimming and would not be on beaches as long as social distancing can be maintained.