The national ban on smoking in public places was introduced at the start of 2011 and caused a good deal of controversy at the time. Since then, the number of inspections to ensure that it is being enforced in the Balearics has decreased substantially. In the first year of the ban there were 3,870 inspections. These fell sharply to 911 in 2012 and have been decreasing ever since. There were 845 in 2013, 730 in 2014 and only 128 last year.
The regional director of public health, Maria Ramos, recognises that inspections need to be strengthened in order to ensure that there are non-smoking areas and to also guarantee that health and educational centres are healthy environments with a one hundred per cent application of non-smoking regulation.
Although the number of inspections has fallen considerably, sanctions because of infractions have in fact been on the increase. There were ninety sanctions in 2011, 94 in 2012 and 121 in 2014.
In addition to the lower number of inspections, there has also been a decline in the consumption of tobacco. Between 2011 and 2014 the sale of cigarettes fell by almost 40%, with there having been 86.2 million packets sold last year.
The public health department accepts that it is necessary to step up the fight against smoking in the Balearics, as it has been relaxed in the past few years. While fewer men are now smoking, the number of women smokers has remained more or less constant, with one in four still smoking.
There are three elements in this fight: increasing inspections; additional help to smokers to get them to quit; and tax and price measures. In the Balearics there is also support for the initiative by the National Committee for Smoking Prevention in having messages and images of harmful effects on packets.