Smoking on the terraces has its days numbered

After years since the last anti-tobacco law, a new and anticipated reform seems to be on the horizon, one that could potentially put an end to smoking on outdoor terraces. The burning question is, what does science have to say about it? As discussions brew regarding a forthcoming anti-tobacco law, the focus is on potential restrictions, including a speculated ban on terrace smoking.


The Looming Anti-Tobacco Law

With an upcoming anti-tobacco law that had been temporarily set aside due to early elections, the details remain vague. Anticipated restrictions are expected to span various areas, from smoking in cars to the use of e-cigarettes. However, the proposed prohibition of smoking on bar terraces has captured the most attention.


Decoding the Science

In 2013, researchers conducted a literature review, analyzing existing scientific studies on passive tobacco smoke exposure in open and semi-open spaces. Published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the studies examined the relationship between the presence of smokers and the density of particulate matter under 2.5 microns (PM2.5). Overall, these studies indicated a positive correlation between the presence of contaminants and smoker density, influenced by factors such as weather, proximity, and the type of environment (open or semi-open).

While an article in the same journal analyzed whether the evidence justified restrictive measures like a ban, it did not conclusively answer the question. It hinted that restricting the gathering of smokers in open spaces might be justified, emphasizing the need for further studies to draw conclusions.


New Studies and Changing Perspectives

Over the past decade, additional studies have delved into this context. A 2022 review highlighted the risks of tobacco consumption in open spaces, examining research conducted in the interim. Another review, published in The Lancet Public Health in 2021, focused on changes in regulations, particularly those restricting outdoor smoking. The effectiveness of laws prohibiting smoking in cars was acknowledged, but studies on outdoor bans were deemed insufficient.


Public Opinion and Legislative Changes

Previous anti-tobacco legislation faced skepticism but has gradually become normalized over the last decade. Recent survey data from the past year revealed that 72% of respondents (6,302 participants) favored banning tobacco consumption on terraces. Notably, 30.9% of smokers supported the ban, with 41.5% advocating for smoking only when a certain distance could be guaranteed.


Less Smoking, More Debates

Despite a decline in smoking (half of what it was ten years ago in 2021), tobacco remains a part of our daily lives. However, legislative changes are likely to spark new debates about the measures to be taken. These could extend beyond terrace restrictions to include vehicles, beaches, and vaping. The outcome will hinge on the unfolding negotiations crucial for the law’s passage. Amidst these changes, one aspect that appears to be gaining clarity is the scientific understanding of the matter.



As we anticipate potential shifts in tobacco legislation, especially regarding terrace smoking, the intersection of science, public opinion, and legislative actions remains complex. With evolving norms and decreasing tobacco use, the forthcoming debates will shape the future of smoking regulations. From the ambiguity of current proposals to the potential impact on public health, the landscape of anti-tobacco measures is poised for transformation, leaving us to navigate the nuanced path ahead.

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