No fines given in first year of Barcelona beach smoke ban

Almost 5 million enjoyed city’s coastline between April and September, figures not seen since 2016

A sign reads 'Smoke Free Beach' at Barcelona's Nova Icària beach
A sign reads 'Smoke Free Beach' at Barcelona's Nova Icària beach / Blanca Blay

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona

October 10, 2022 04:29 PM

No fines were given during the first year of Barcelona's beach smoke ban. In fact, only 1% of attendees smoked while on the beach and supervising agents notified 40,000 people, as figures released on Monday by the city council show.

Eloi Badia, Barcelona's councilor for climate emergency and environmental transition highlighted that the law outweighed expectations as eight out of 10 citizens, whether they smoke or not, believed the prohibition was positive.

The summer of 2022 was the first summer in which the ban was in place across all the Catalan capital beaches, as in 2021 authorities did a pilot test on four beaches. Back then, the number of smokers was reduced to 3%, while this year, it dropped to 0.97%, according to Barcelona's beaches' information services.

During this summer, no fines were issued because every time someone was warned about the prohibition, they respectfully put out the cigarette or walked back to the street, where smoking is still allowed. This is why local authorities will continue informing rather than issuing fines.

The vast majority of people knew that smoking was prohibited, as even out of ten were aware of it, especially because of the signs in place. 

However, 72% of beachgoers also reported seeing some cigarette butts, something the council believes is because of parties at night. 

Record number of beachgoers

Leaving the smoking ban aside, overall, the beach season in Barcelona has been very positive, authorities claim.

Almost five million people went to the beach from April 9 to September 25, a record number not seen since 2016.

Only in July, over 1.5 million people went to the beaches in Barcelona. The month with the highest attendance this summer.

But while the number of people increased, the space to sunbathe was reduced by 4.5% compared to 2021.