The anti-smoking plan is becoming difficult for the Ministry of Health. The meeting with the general directors of Public Health of the autonomous communities has ended with the latter’s request for more time to analyze the measures of the strategy and the changes incorporated after its amendments. Of the 157 allegations sent by the ministries, ten have been left out, as reported by the Ministry in a press release. It is the second time that the territories ask for a moratorium from the team led by Minister Mónica García.

In any case, the positions expressed this Wednesday in the Public Health Commission already anticipate the practical impossibility of the Comprehensive Tobacco Prevention and Control Plan (PIT) 2024-2027 is approved with consensus. Health refuses to put it to a vote and has proposed the formula of giving it the green light through a “collaboration agreement” to which the regional governments may or may not adhere in the event of a lack of harmony. Adherence may be total (to the entire text) or partial (to some lines of it). The ministerial team wants to move forward with the plan this week and has given the ministries until Thursday to communicate their position.

Health has reported that 147 proposals from the communities “have led to a modification or clarification of the text”, although before the meeting the Ministry estimated the number of allegations it was willing to consider at 160. Among them are the withdrawal of the term “private space”, which was controversial because it applied to vehicles, and the change to “smoke-free spaces for public and collective use” or the incorporation of the available scientific evidence in favor of generic labeling. that includes the plan, as this media has learned from sources close to the negotiations.

Those that have not been negotiable, however, are the idea of ​​the Balearic Islands, La Rioja or Aragon, advanced by Efe, that the expansion of smoke-free outdoor spaces be voluntary or self-regulated; or Aragón’s proposal for the vapers are considered in the plan as a “harm reduction” tool – the so-called smoking cessation – in some cases. The communities allege lack of time to review the amendments that have been accepted and the absence of an economic report of the strategy.

The National Committee for the Prevention of Smoking (CNPT) and the Spanish Association against Cancer (AECC) have appealed to the Government and the autonomous communities, after this Wednesday’s meeting, “to act responsibly and seek the greatest possible consensus in the approval” of the roadmap against tobacco in Spain. “Our message is clear: the decisions we make today will define the well-being and health of future generations,” according to a press release released by the organizations, which assure that the “situation is decisive in influencing significant change.”

Threat of “political front”

Among the communities’ requests there were also tax incentives for declaring more smoke-free outdoor spaces, the request for an economic report for the strategy, funds for the measures that depend on them or greater specificity regarding the prohibition of smoking in private spaces, such as vehicles, according to Efe.

In any case, the result of this week’s negotiations will lead, in the best of scenarios, to the approval of a strategy that must then be reflected in legal texts. That is, the plan is not a law. “Each legislative measure that affects the autonomous communities will have to be approved in its corresponding forum. We are not talking about that, suddenly, when the plan is approved, all the spaces will be regulated and all the laws will be changed,” Gullón clarified two weeks ago, when the Ministry met with scientific societies and anti-smoking associations to demonstrate that their The plan – partially inherited from the previous mandate – had support.

The minister herself, Mónica García, has already sent a direct message to the communities anticipating the “political front” that this matter may represent. “Beyond the tension and noise, they are responsible for protecting health. It would seem very strange to me, after all the evidence, the figures and the trajectory of our country, that this specific issue with endorsed social consensus be used to make it another political front,” she told the press.


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