Most municipalities on the Malaga coast agree with the regional health authorities' proposal that there should be smoke-free beaches. However, they think the matter needs further study, especially regarding how the ban could be enforced. They would also have to change municipal regulations in order to put the measure into effect.
The plan aims to stop people smoking and throwing cigarette ends on the beach. One cigarette end contaminates eight litres of water, and the filter of the cigarette, which contains tar, lead and nicotine, takes up to ten years to decompose.
The acting Councillor for Beaches at Malaga city hall, Teresa Porras, says the PP's programme in Malaga already includes smoke-free zones beside the sea, so they would be prepared to test it on one of the city's beaches. "We are in favour of smoke-free beaches, but we would want to try it out first because there is no sense in implementing things and then finding they don't work," she says. She also says the council will have to determine how the no-smoking ban will be monitored to ensure that people comply.
Her counterpart at Marbella town hall, Manuel Cardeña, thinks it is "a good idea" for people not to smoke on the beach because it is better for health and nobody will be throwing away cigarette ends, which are difficult to remove and take so long to decompose. "We need to make people aware of this," he says.
The cost of cleaning
José María Gómez, the acting councillor for Beaches in Rincón de la Victoria, agrees. "Beaches are public spaces, so we believe people shouldn't smoke on them. Also, they bury the cigarette ends in the sand and it costs money to remove them," he says.
In Benalmádena, Encarnación Cortés, who is responsible for the beaches there, says she thinks it would be "great" to have smoke-free areas beside the sea. She also says it costs the council money to clean up the cigarette ends, and is concerned about the environmental damage caused by the filters. "Any measures which aim to stop people smoking in public are a sign of progress," she says.
Sources at Fuengirola town hall say they think smoke-free beaches are a good idea and they will be studying the regional government's proposal to see if it is viable. They will have to see whether the measure could be applied on local beaches, and how to ensure that people don't smoke there.
In Torremolinos, the councillor responsible for beaches, Maribel Tocón, says no official communication has been received by the town hall yet, so she would need to see it before commenting.
In Mijas, Juan Carlos Martín says he has nothing against the idea of smoke-free beaches if the measure can be applied after modifying local regulations and if there is legal support for banning smoking on the beach.
The president of the Association of Costa del Sol Beach Businesses, Manuel Villafaina, believes it would be difficult to stop people smoking in the open air, but is in favour of the idea. "We would be delighted if they stopped throwing cigarette ends on the sand," he says.