Travelling invigorates our desire to live a fuller life. However, for the conscious traveller, it can be distressing to see the harm cigarettes have caused on our planet.
The tobacco industry is one of the leading causes of the environment’s deterioration. Each year, nearly 3.5 million hectares of land are destroyed to grow tobacco. With its adverse effects on our planet, smoking has become highly discouraged. Most traditional tobacco products, particularly cigarettes, are antithetical to eco-conscious travelling because they are simply disposed of on the ground. Additionally, cigarette pack production and distribution contribute to the waste found in our environment. Cigarette butts contaminate our streets, and even our beaches, with toxic wastes like heavy metals and metalloids.
If you’re a conscious traveller, we understand that the prevalence of smoking can decrease the enjoyment of your trip. That being said, below are four smoke-free destinations that offer great views and worthwhile activities.
South Africa boasts beautiful national parks and stunning lagoons, which makes it attractive for those who want to immerse themselves in nature. Fortunately, you can do so without worrying about scattered cigarette waste. The country’s first major tobacco control legislation in 1993, the Tobacco Products Control Act, remains in effect today. Although it’s seen three subsequent amendments, there’s a widespread ban on all promotion of tobacco products (with exemptions for specific notices at certain retailers). Smoking is also banned in all indoor public spaces, so you can enjoy the local cuisine and galleries with ease. If you’re looking for attractions to visit, we suggest Satyagraha in Johannesburg, which is a breathtaking house that doubles as a museum. The place features artfully curated photos and journals for those who want to inject a bit of culture into their smoke-free travel experience.
The Canary Islands is a Spanish archipelago popular for its volcanic landscapes and ancient monuments. The islands were also awarded the Smoke-Free Culture certification from TUV Austria in February 2021. An anti-smoking campaign was launched in June of that same year which included placing “smoke-free space” signs in public areas such as football fields or family parks. All that considered, you can explore the islands without worrying about cigarette waste. Tenerife and Gran Canaria, specifically, contain beautiful rock formations and quaint landmarks. Travellers can choose to explore historic sites in Vegueta, which is home to some of the oldest and most colourful buildings in Gran Canaria.
With crystal clear waters all around, Greece offers some of the most spectacular beaches in the world, not to mention the freshest food. Travellers who seek to do a little food pilgrimage can rest assured that the country has a widespread smoking ban in place. Although the ban was introduced in 2008, stricter regulations were enforced in 2019 to curb the prevalence of smoking in Greece. Cafes, clubs, and restaurants now have a zero-smoking policy, so travellers can experience Greek cuisine in all its glory. Feel free to indulge in all the moussaka and pastitsio that you want. We suggest visiting Thessaloniki, Greece’s culinary capital, to experience innovative takes on the country’s classic dishes and pastries.
With its sandy beaches and coastal mountain ranges, Santa Cruz offers travellers a taste of that quintessential Californian coast energy. More than that, the county has always prioritized tobacco waste awareness and prevention. Santa Cruz started banning smoking in public places in 1985 with the County Smoking Pollution Control Ordinance No. 3650. In a 2009 amendment, the ban extended to key locations like the Wharf and walking and biking routes on West Cliff drive. Recently, Scotts Valley City Council also moved to ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes. Santa Cruz is renowned for its surf culture, and, luckily, its beaches adopt the same resolution to mitigate tobacco waste. Beach smoking bans are also equally useful in preserving the beauty of amenities for tourists. Travellers who want to take up water activities like surfing can do so in Santa Cruz, and after, you can take a stroll along the Wharf to capture breathtaking sunset views.
** Image sourced.