Beaches may soon have to be smoke-free to qualify for Blue Flag

Blug Flag, new rules?

Blue Flag award. Credit: giuseppe aversa/

It has been revealed that the Blue Flag network is studying the requirement to be a smoke-free beach in order to be awarded their certification.

Galicia currently has 214 smoke-free beaches and The Galician Healthcare Service (SERGAS), Minister, Julio García Comesaña, has indicated that the Blue Flag network may apply the same rules to beaches across Spain, writes La Voz de Galicia, May 31.

Blue flags are awarded to beaches based on the quality of the bathing water, services and facilities for bathers and environmental management. However, according to sources, the foundation that grants these awards is now studying to add one more requirement: that the beach be declared a tobacco-free zone.

SERGAS has a clear plan: to reduce tobacco consumption. To achieve this aim, the plan includes the expansion of smoke-free outdoor spaces.

Galicia currently has 214 smoke-free beaches and 18 parks, but this measure will be extended to squares, football pitches, basketball courts, outdoor swimming pools and even university campuses.

Comesaña went on to say: ‘We have to denaturalise the idea that you can smoke outdoors,’ He also pointed out, ‘and I don’t know if this is an exclusive or not,’ that the network of blue flags awarded in Spain by the Association for Environmental and Consumer Education (Adeac) seriously considers, in part to the Galician experience, that the blue flag implies being a smoke-free beach.

The Principalities’ anti-smoking drive also includes a Galician No Tobacco Day, on 31 October, together with a network to promote a life without tobacco.

Comesaña also mentioned the use of AI to highlight patients whose records show they may have a predisposition to smoking-related diseases, such as COPD and cardiovascular aliments.

The message will also target young people to try and prevent, or at least delay them from taking up smoking, including awareness and information campaigns with special attention to social networks.

Even health workers are given a slap on the wrist. Despite the fact that hospital premises inside and outside are meant to be smoke-free spaces, cigarette butts at the hospital doors, in the surrounding area or in the car parks are commonplace.

Comesaña insisted that measures should be put in place to ensure that hospitals comply with legislation ‘that is being complied with in bars. We have to lead by example,’ he concluded.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.