City Restricts Outdoor Smoking in Pursuit of a Greener Life
Following Ireland, Italy implemented a ban on smoking in closed public spaces – most notably, in bars and restaurants – in 2005, becoming a pioneer in Europe. Such bans are now widespread, but the Italian city of Milan has recently taken a step further to combat pollution.
Choked with road traffic and situated in the middle of the industrial Po Valley, Milan suffers from high levels of air pollution. Late last year, the city announced that it was introducing an outdoor smoking ban – one measure, amongst others – to improve air quality. (Note: this ban does not include e-cigarettes.)
As of January 1st 2021, smoking in a range of open-air public spaces – such as bus and tram stops, parks, cemeteries, and stadiums, including the famous football stadium, San Siro – is no longer permitted. One can only light up in isolated spots, ensuring that they maintain a minimum distance of 10 meters from others. Fines ranging from €40 to €240 will be issued gradually to those caught breaking this new law.
A study by the ISS health agency found that since the indoor smoking ban came into effect in Italy in 2005, the number of smokers in the country aged 15 and over has decreased by one million to 11.6 million. Italy’s crackdown on smoking is only due to intensify, as this partial outdoor smoking ban is to be extended to a complete ban on smoking in all public spaces in Milan by 2025.
According to the local council, restricting smokers is necessary to protect the health of citizens through a reduction of PM10, which are fine particles (with a diameter of 10 microns or less) that are inhaled into the lungs and can cause adverse health effects. Of the PM10 particles in the city, 8% are a result of cigarette smoke. To find out more about the effects of smoking on the body, read our other blog posts.
Councillor Marco Granelli told BBC News that maintaining healthy respiratory systems has become a priority, as COVID-19’s attack on the lungs has shown us that our health is fragile. With air pollution levels among the worst in all of Western Europe, and with the city having been hard hit by the virus outbreak, “Milan can’t not do this”, he states.
This new smoking ban adds to the list of measures that the local government has taken to create a greener and more sustainable city. Last year, a scheme launched to increase the number of bicycle lanes around the city, and thanks to Forestami, the urban forestation project for Milan, three million trees are to be planted in the city by 2023. In time, as Milan becomes greener, it may no longer be known as ‘the grey city’.