Somebody asked me about smoking in Iceland.
First of all I want to stress that I don’t smoke, never have, nor do I in any way support using any form of tobacco. However, I feel that us non-smokers sometimes forget that smokers are human beings too and as long as they treat me with the respect of not blowing smoke in my face or leaving their nasty stench on my clothes, they as everyone else deserve my respect. Therefore I make a point of trying not to tell people that smoke that they should quit, we all know that it doesn’t work anyway, and when they ask me what the rules are about smoking in Iceland I see no point in giving them a lecture about how smoking kills. I’d rather just answer their questions.
In Iceland smoking is not allowed indoors in any public buildings, in restaurants, bars, cafes, on school grounds, around sport facilities or the public spaces in apartment buildings. Smoking is only allowed in public spaces outside if they are adequately ventilated so people that don’t smoke are guaranteed their right to clean air. Some hotels can allow smoking in certain rooms, as long as the right of the non-smoker is guaranteed, but most hotels and guesthouses are completely smoke free.
To purchase cigarettes in Iceland one needs to be at least 18 years old and ID may be required. You also have to be 18 to be allowed to sell cigarettes. Cigarettes are only sold in grocery and convenient stores and at some bars and it’s not allowed to sell them in vending machines. Basically they are not allowed to be seen anywhere. Today, in 2013, a pack of cigarettes goes for about 1200 ISK/ 7.70 Euro / 10 USD / 6.60 GBP.
Icelanders are mostly quite relaxed towards smoking although it’s not considered especially cool to do it. People will smoke on the streets and it’s not particularly frowned upon although it’s considered common courtesy to try to spare those who don’t smoke with the side effects. In some bars, like the boyfriend’s favorite bar Ölstofan, there’s a designated smoking area outside the bar and some of them even have heaters to keep you poor smoking souls warm. Unfortunately not all the locals are good with getting rid of the butts, despite the fact that many places have installed special cigarette butt houses where you can leave them, but please don’t throw away your cigarette butt on the ground just because you saw some local do it.
On the mend
If you have recently quit smoking with the aid of nicotine supplements such as nicotine gum or patches and you need a fix, you can buy most nicotine supplements over the counter at any drug store.
If you need some help to quit smoking, here’s a British website that might be able to help. There’s also a 800 phone number you can call while in Iceland, 800-6030, available Monday to Friday between 17:00 and 20:00. I’m not sure whether they can take calls in English but you can always give it a try.