Expat Life – Why is Smoking in Spain Second Nature?

Expat Life - Why is Smoking in Spain Second Nature?

If you´re recently read my last post sharing a life update you´ll be well aware that we are now residents of the beautiful and seemingly always sunny Costa del Sol. Our life on the Costa is just getting started and even though there is so much to experience the first thing that I wanted to chat with you about is how you can notice things as a local that you just don´t really appreciate to the same extent as a tourist.

There may be no clouds in sight up in the sky, but there are almost always clouds of smoke following you about and if you´re a non-smoker, or are quitting smoking, then those clouds are unwelcome at best and enraging at worst. As an expat, I chose this nomadic lifestyle due to my love of experiencing cultures just as they are. I don´t intend on making changes to anything or disrupting the way of life. Especially not the way of life of the country whose relaxed attitudes and lifestyle attracts thousands upon thousands of visitors every year. There are reasons why the stereotypes exist and in this case, the stereotype of the siesta loving Spaniard who has a cigarette for breakfast and finishes a pack a day are somewhat true.

Visiting Spain is not a novelty to us. As some regular readers and followers of our adventures may know, the other half is from Gibraltar, which though British, is a skip and a hop away from the paradise that is Andalucia. During the lifespan of our relationship Spain has been somewhere we travel quite often to visit family and to take advantage of the beautiful location. That being said, there is a certain perspective that you gain when you know that you are now “a local”. It´s unique and something that calls to you and lets you know that now you are part of the furniture and what goes on on a day to day basis here affects you and your lifestyle.

As a new expat in Spain, I have gained new knowledge and appreciation for things I hadn´t noticed before. The one that stuck out like a sore thumb is the smoking culture in Spain. What is it about the Spanish that makes them so enamoured with lighting up? I can’t give you a solid answer. What I do know is that as an occasional smoker who is trying to kick the habit it can be a bit difficult to see how openly embraced this vice is.


The good thing is that there are always options to help you quit smoking and new vaping technology is always being introduced. With vaping being quite a new option for those quitting it’s good to know that you don’t have to worry about what people may think of your vaporiser. Not that it matters, but with smoking and now vaping being quite a social activity you don’t have to worry too much about whether or not you are missing out on social events due to giving up fags.

Smoking Bans

Spain is making progress, minimal at best, but progress nonetheless about banning smoking in enclosed spaces. With a smoking ban set out in 2011, Spaniards have had no choice but to comply with the smoking ban and what it entails. Though I don’t see anyone smoking inside establishments it doesn’t say much for the terraces and patios that are packed with smoking patrons. It seems like it’s pretty much one in the same to me.

Cultural Expression

I don’t know yet why the Spaniards are so enamoured with smoking. Perhaps it’s the social aspect, perhaps it just goes hand in hand with the leisurely life that the Iberians lead. I’m not sure. What I do know is that it’s baffling to be greeted with ashtrays everywhere we go. There they are. Between the napkin holder and the salt shaker. Thankfully, I can enjoy life without lighting up, which is something that I am seeing more and more people in my generation doing. Hopefully, other generations follow suit and smoking in public spaces can become a thing of the past.

  • Joanna

    Intersting to see how other countries view and go about smoking bans. I don’t smoke and hate the smell of it so stay away from smoking areas when i can.

  • I always find it so odd when I go on holiday and there’s more people about smoking and in different areas as I don’t notice it as much at home x

  • I noticed a lot of smoking when I was in Barcelona, you never notice it as much at home in the UK.

  • Lukeosaurus And Me

    I’ve never been to Spain, but there’s certainly an image formed in my mind of laid back Spaniards smoking and just being sooo chill. I don’t notice it so much at home in the UK, but when I do go on holiday, I do seem to notice the smoking a bit more.

  • We did notice a lot of smokers when we visited Spain this summer. It’s astonishing that in this day and age with the education available that people still choose to smoke! (I’m an exsmoker, me!)

  • Mel

    I’ve never been to Spain but I always have this weird idea that a good chunk of Europe that tend to take the more relaxed approach to life always do so with a cigarette in their hand. I don’t smoke but I know if we’re in an area where smoking is perfectly acceptable, my other half will light up and I’ve made my peace with that. So long as I don’t go home reeking of smoke I’m ok with being in a cigarette happy area.

  • I have family that live in Spain and I always forget how much they smoke out there x

  • Mellissa Williams

    I never realised smoking was such a big thing out there! I suppose we don’t notice as much on home turf. x

  • BusyLazyMum

    I’ve never been to Spain but didn’t realise smoking was such a big thing out there.