Smoking in Public Places in Iceland

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Smoking in Public Places in Iceland

Summer in Reykjavík

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Q: What is the smoke-free situation in Iceland? Is smoking prohibited in the majority of locales? Is it possible to breathe pure and fresh air in most of the apartments or rooms in the major cities? Also, what is the common culture about smoking in Iceland?



A: Since 2007 smoking has been banned in all public buildings, as well as in restaurants, bars and cafés. It is also prohibited in the public spaces of apartment buildings and hotels, and most all hotels ban it entirely. You can expect most apartments available for short-term rental to be smoke free, but to be sure you should check to see whether they are advertised as such, or contact the landlord and ask.

When the smoking ban was instituted seven years ago polls indicated that the population was generally in favor of it, with 82 percent in support and 18 percent in opposition. A 2005 study indicated that 25 percent of Icelanders are smokers and it is unlikely that that figure has changed dramatically in nine years. The rights of non-smokers are recognized both by law and by the public and you will find that most people will take care not to smoke upwind of others, and most prefer to smoke outside, even if they are in their own homes.

You must be 18 and present a valid ID verifying your age to purchase cigarettes in Iceland. Smoking is not considered particularly fashionable or cool, but rather something people do because they started and now they can’t stop. The Directorate of Health and the Welfare Ministry are currently working on a new smoking policy and it has been announced that smoking in a car where a child is a passenger could be made a criminal offense.