Costa del Sol tourists who flout new smoking ban face a £2,700 fine
- Standard fine is £90 but most egregious acts of smoking will be fined £2,700
- Spain announced nationwide ban for smoking within six feet of others last week
- Research shows exhalation, as well as other smoking habits, spreads infection
Costa del Sol tourists who flout a new smoking ban face a £2,700 fine if they do not adhere to the latest coronavirus rule to roll out across Spain.
The standard fine is £90 (100 euros), but those deemed to have caused the maximum damage to public health will be asked to pay £2,712 (3,000 euros), local media reported.
The smoking ban, announced last week by Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa, is nationwide and prevents people from lighting up in public when social distancing of six feet cannot be guaranteed.
Health ministry research published last month outlined that smoking increases the risk of spreading Covid-19 in several ways; primarily, because exhalation projects droplets of saliva, but also because smokers touch their cigarettes before putting them in their mouths and they handle their face masks to smoke.
A man smoking yesterday in Malaga, Andulucia. The regional Andalucian government, which covers areas like the Costa del Sol, began to apply the smoking ban on Monday
A woman smokes on a street in downtown Pamplona on Monday – the ban has been rolled out nationwide
In addition, the health ministry cited the broader health impacts associated with smoking, most notably on the lungs, which are also attacked by the virus.
Each region has been given autonomy on when to begin the prohibition and the fines to be imposed.
The regional Andalucian government, which covers areas like the Costa del Sol, began to apply the measure on Monday.
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 the same day.
Electronic cigarettes and hookahs are also covered by the smoking ban.
Health officials are justifying it by saying scientific evidence points to the droplets expelled by smokers helping to spread coronavirus and the act of smoking 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.
It is understood police have been instructed to warn people in the first few days against the practice of smoking in the street and places like cafe terraces where they see social distancing is not guaranteed, before they start handing out fines.
Bars and other businesses that allow people to flout the public smoking ban have been warned they will also face fines, although not where they report customers who have ignored requests to put out their cigarettes.
Spain reported an 11 percent increase in coronavirus cases in the last seven days, taking its total number of infections to 359,082 on Monday.
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