Villananitos beach, located between the Club Náutico de Lo Pagán and the children’s park, is the latest to be added to the growing network of smoke-free beaches in the area joining the regional program ‘Beaches without smoke’ that began in hospitals and is now being extended to beaches and sports centres across the whole of Spain.

At this stage, however, smoke-free beaches are no more than a pilot project that we expect to see introduced this summer. Police will not be able to impose sanctions on people who smoke on these beaches, as it is not prohibited by law, but posters will be prominently displayed showing the effects of tobacco which, in Murcia alone, will result in 3,000 deaths in 2018.

According to the Ministry of Health who are sponsoring the project, public spaces must move towards healthier conditions, to improve the environmental quality of beaches and the health of the population in the area.

This awareness program on the effects of tobacco is appealing to the co-responsibility of the entire population,” because tobacco “contaminates” and, secondly, “it gives a bad image to children. The project will consist of the placement of informative signs in the beach areas to promote healthy lifestyles and combat the effects of tobacco consumption, as well as the environmental effects of cigarette butts on being left on the beaches.

Young people especially offer more hope, since the percentage of smokers between 14 and 18 years of age is lower than the national average.

Murcia’s Minister of Health, Manuel Villegas, said, “Just as there are beaches for naturists and for animals, why can’t we have beaches without smoke. We should have them for everyone, but especially for children who don’t want to be digging up cigarette butts as they play with their toys in the sand”.

The measure was also proposed in April at the Valencian Corts by the Compromís Deputy, Jordi Juan, who presented a proposal for the Valencian Parliament to urge the Consell to create a ‘Smokeless Beaches Network’ in the Region “at this stage an educational and non-punitive measure, in order to denormalise the consumption of tobacco on beaches, reduce pollution and protect the environment.

The measure is already widely accepted in Portugal, France and Italy and in the USA over half of all seaside destinations are completely smoke-free. In the UK a voluntary ban was introduced at Little Haven in back in 2016, which also applies to e-cigarettes.