Tobacco companies in Spain have been changing the paper used to make cigarettes for the new ‘self extinguishing’ kind. This is to adapt to European laws which have been set in place to reduce the accidental fires caused by cigarette ends that have not been completely put out, thus helping in the prevention of forest fires often caused by careless drivers throwing stubs from moving cars. Incidentally, any form of rubbish thrown from vehicles, such as paper and tissues, can also land you with a fine of €200. From now on cigarettes will have an invisible band around the bottom, near the filter, which will slowly extinguish automatically, with the European Commission demanding that all cigarettes sold after the 17th of November have this new band. Trials have worked successfully in the United States, Canada and Australia and although the band does not affect the taste, some smokers in Spain have been infuriated by the fact the cigarettes keep going out and need relighting.
At the moment the estancos (State-controlled tobacco shops) are still selling a mix of old stock and new but after the middle of this month they will have to withdraw those with old style filters. However, the tobacco industry states clearly that this is not a substitution for people to be responsible for their own actions when smoking or extinguishing their cigarettes. The new bands on the cigarettes are not fireproof and therefore should not be left smouldering with the user believing they will go out immediately, even though eventually they will.
Meanwhile the latest Government figures have revealed the sale of tobacco has fallen by around 15 per cent since the introduction of the new smoking laws at the beginning of the year.