Should The Camp Nou Stands be Smoke Free?

A bar in Barcelona, somewhere off the main drag, hidden in an alleyway. In the US, it’d be a dive, but here it’s a local watering hole with all that Spanish verve that makes the American travel comment on how communal things are in Europe. The sangria is fantastic, the tapas plentiful and divine. And we leave almost immediately, polishing off our first and only drink as quickly as possible. It’s not that it’s too hot because there’s a breeze through the open doorways; it’s not that the prices are too high because a large glass is only a couple of Euros; and it’s certainly not that the server isn’t attractive enough because she’s maddeningly beautiful. Instead, it’s that there is a cloud of smoke hanging over everything. It’s the classic dark bar look: hazy atmosphere, hoarse voices.

I don’t smoke. I never have and, barring some strange change in my personality, never will. And so I’m cheered by the discussion going on amongst the brass of the club to ban cigarettes at the Camp Nou. Naturally enough, I have no idea how many of you have personal stake in this particular topic, but I come from a culture that is not against banning smoking. I live in New York City, which was one of the first cities in the country to ban smoking in bars and a place that is supposedly considering banning smoking in all public places. When I visit other states and countries, I’m often wowed by how many people smoke and in Spain, where I have traveled briefly, avoiding the chimneys was almost a sport.

Forgive me if I’m generalizing a little too much here, but smoking is important in Spain, though perhaps not as much as in other places. This discussion about banning it in the stadium, then, is a step in a different direction. But is it the right direction?

My justification for all smoking bans—indeed, for expanding specific smoking bans to the aforementioned public-wide idea—is that smoking is not a solitary pursuit. If you and I are sitting on a bus next to each other and you light up, I am, by no choice of my own, smoking a cigarette. I am not into the idea that one should be banned from doing things that are harmful to one’s own health, but instead that bans should protect those not engaging in that activity.

Another thing: I drink. I love beer, especially, and I would be peeved beyond belief if it were banned. If there’s a slippery slope argument to be made here, it’s that a smoking ban would precipitate an alcohol ban, especially if cigarettes are outlawed because of a desire to make the Camp Nou more “family friendly”. The drunk guy in Row X is probably often more annoying than the guy smoking quietly behind him in Row Y. And Dani Alves’ crosses often hit the mother complaining about the drunken lout because she’s in Row Z with her kids. That’s an argument I can understand, but the drunk guy is not intoxicating the children, just annoying them. And if he gets too out of line, he should be removed from the stadium, which I’m sure happens already, though perhaps its personal priorities that cause me to put on blinders and think that banning alcohol would be unacceptable. The difference—or maybe just the way I justify it—is that ingesting alcohol is a singular act: when I drink, no one else has to drink. When I smoke, everyone around me has to smoke. That my behavior may change when I’m drinking is something else entirely, or at least I believe it to be.

For those of you preferring up the argument that the stadium’s atmosphere will change (and also noise levels and cheering–har har) and thus smoking shouldn’t be banned–England, that bastion of the chanting fan, has banned smoking for years and their stadiums appear to have remained unchanged. Except for less stinky clothing. Histrionics about personal rights have little go on either, I don’t think, given that the Camp Nou is not actually a public place, but rather a privately owned business that can enact smoking bans if it chooses. Even the libertarians have to admit that.

All of this is going to go before the club’s Assembly anyway (which is interesting, given what is not going before the Assembly, but that’s a discussion for a different day), so have your say in the comments. To be clear: I am for a total smoking ban in the Camp Nou, but I do not necessarily speak for the rest of the BFB crew. Sorry to those of you who enjoy the sticky icky up with the gods, but that has to go the way of the dodo just like the non-wacky tabacky. Now if they try to do away with chocolate before previews…I will revolt.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


    • March 22, 2011

      Yeah, I know, shut up.

      I don’t like posting something and *then* checking the news and finding out what I posted is going to get lost in the quagmire of people caring that what I said would happen eventually finally happened except that I’m super over it already cause I saw it coming for months.

  1. K_legit
    March 22, 2011

    Awesome news on the alves renewal..

  2. Josep
    March 22, 2011

    This is the first post I’m not going to read, sorry. I don’t even care about a smoking ban in a place I’ve never been, and in all likelihood, will never be at.

    • Ryan
      March 22, 2011

      Please, Alves can renew for all he’s worth, but keep him non-nude, thanks!

  3. blaunero
    March 22, 2011

    Frankly I’m surprised there’s even a discussion about this. Smoking is harmful and it should have been banned from all public places long ago.

  4. mei
    March 22, 2011

    short answer to the article : NO.

  5. Artur
    March 22, 2011

    Alves renewed!!!!

    Btw just a few suggestions for new articles if you’re running out of creative juice – player profiles, catalan language lessons for us english folks, WAGS 😀

    • blitzen
      March 22, 2011

      Please let this stay a WAG-free zone!

      • Eklavya
        March 22, 2011

        More like Shakira free zone. Other WAGs are fine.

        • Ryan
          March 22, 2011

          But Shakira is the finest of them all! Much rather this be a WAG-free zone, like Blitzen said, though.

      • soccermomof4
        March 22, 2011

        Alves renewed! BEST. NEWS. EVER. (well at least the best news of the week, and after last week, we needed some good news).

        Yes to a WAG-free zone 🙂

        Smoking ban? If I ever get there it would make my visit more pleasant. But I kinda figure that if I’m in a foreign country I’ve gotta learn to put up with any differing cultural norms, even if they make me cough.

        Catalan lessons:

  6. Eklavya
    March 22, 2011


  7. Colby
    March 22, 2011

    1. Hooray for Alves renewing.

    2. I think I am of more or less the same opinion of Isaiah. I’m for smoking bans in general. However, I also come from a place where smoking is very rare and is just not part of the culture, so I’m curious what others have to say.

    • Eklavya
      March 22, 2011

      Well, I go to a place everyday where ~45% people smoke regularly. Thats 45% of ~2000 people. So yeah Im used to it, even though its pretty annoying.

      • Helge
        March 22, 2011

        Talking about your school, right?

        But that’s a pretty high rate, I would guess that we’ve had 20% of regular smokers at my school.

  8. K_legit
    March 22, 2011

    Well smoking is i feel is a personal choice so i’ll never push for a ban on it. Plus i feel its almost a part of the culture in european nations so a ban would be in the least impractical..

  9. Nav
    March 22, 2011

    And to remain on topic: I’m from New Zealand where we’ve had smoking bans in bars and restaurants for a good while now. At the beginning there were a lot of complaining (there still are, along with cases of civil disobedience), but things have settled down. I have to say that I’m in favour of the smoking ban in restaurants/bars because I don’t smoke and did not appreciate smelling like a chain smoker every time I went out (along with the helath hazards second hand smoking can bring). However the downside to this is that because each bar/restaurant has a designated ‘smoke’ area, which is typically outside; and they get congested with all the smokers. Instead of a relatively even density of smoke, now you get an area full of heavy smokers usually in the veranda. Which sucks because that’s usually a fairly cool place to hang out.

    Anyway, going back on topic, I think the no-smoking idea is a good one and after a bit of crying and whining, things should settle down and we’ll look back on it thinking ‘why wasn’t this done before?!’.

  10. blitzen
    March 22, 2011

    Poor Isaiah, getting your post pre-empted by Dani’s renewal! 😛

    Smoking in the Camp Nou? In theory I should be for a smoking ban, but I’m not too worked up about it. I am not a smoker, never have been. I was very happy when smoking bans were introduced here for bars, restaurants, and public buildings. But it’s a bit different in an open-air facility like a football stadium, isn’t it? And as Isaiah pointed out, it is privately owned, and like Josep I will probably not get to go there too many times, so….it doesn’t matter that much to me.

  11. Ryan
    March 22, 2011

    I haven’t been to Barcelona in a few years, but man, going out automatically meant your clothes were going to reek of tobacco. The clubs were especially bad. Granted, all but one on my Spanish side smoke, so I don’t know how kindly they would take to a ban.

  12. Helge
    March 22, 2011

    Well, I’m also one of the beer-drinker-fraction and support the arguments to ban smoking in bars or closed rooms in general.
    But banning it in such a huge, open football stadium… I simply don’t know if smoking there affects the health of those around the smoker. At least I expect it to be way less harmful, and there will obviously never be a cloud of smoke in the Camp Nou (except of from fireworks – legal or illegal).

    To be honest, I don’t even know whether smoking is prohibited in my local stadium or not. I’ve never experienced the smell of smoke when visiting it.

    Nonetheless I opt for a total smoking ban in the Camp Nou, because it might still annoy me a little bit to sit next to a smoker.

    I actually prefer sitting or standing next to a bunch of party-atmosphere promoting, half-drunk football fans. One should also note that, for many people, drinking alcohol inspires them to chant and thus improves the athmosphere in a stadium. I myself sing louder when I’ve drunk 3 beers.
    There’s also the kind of guy that gets aggressive, but from what I’ve experienced, they are the vast minority.

    btw, you forgot a not in “the drunk guy is intoxicating the children”

    • Helge
      March 22, 2011

      About my local stadium, I should add that I didn’t see a No Smoking sign either. Otherwise, it’d be no surprise that I didn’t meet a smoker there, yet:)

    • Eklavya
      March 22, 2011

      Well I have a friend who regularly goes to the local stadium for (low profile) matches and he complains about people smoking not cigarettes but also joint and stuff.

      I don’t many stadiums in Europe have banned smoking. Maybe high profile ones but certainly not the majority.

  13. March 22, 2011

    Well, I don’t drink or smoke and I feel both are terrible for you, so if there is a ban I’d be down with it. Not that I’ve ever been to el Camp Nou, but I agree on principle.

  14. March 22, 2011

    As for smoking in the Nou Camp, I think its just fine. One cool thing I found was that in Spain, I believe all cigarettes are sold out of machines, not in stores (that’s pretty cool). In Amarica, we have had this crazy 20 year (don’t smoke) campaign, but shit is different in Europe, let it be!!!!

    • Eklavya
      March 22, 2011

      Um, no? I went there last winter and you could buy them from stores. There were also machines but they were in the stores itself.

  15. March 22, 2011


    If you don’t like that dark grey bar on the top of your screen, you can disable it if you want. Go to your profile–use the “edit my profile” option. Go to “Personal Options” just before your name, and there will be a section called “Show — Bar” (it’s “Show Admin Bar for me). “When viewing site” should be checkmarked. Uncheck it and then scroll down to “update profile” and it should be gone.

    • Eklavya
      March 22, 2011

      Thanks. That bar is pretty useless.

  16. Lev
    March 22, 2011

    “Which sucks because that’s usually a fairly cool place to hang out.”

    definitely not saying that smokers are cooler people, but generally speaking the hang out spots where we do our smoking are more fun and social :p (weird, but true, imo)

    I dare say that the Camp Nou is big enough for a smokers section – of course the difficulty is that every soci has their assigned spot…

    I understand and fully agree with smoking bans in indoor areas, but outside…mmmmm…urrrrr….

  17. K_legit
    March 22, 2011

    Dunno why but i have always felt that smoking is a very social thing..i also believe that bummin’ a cig is the best ice breaker known to man 🙂

  18. Andres
    March 22, 2011

    My one game at the Camp Nou, CL against Stuttgart last spring, I was sitting way up in the nosebleeds – and was completely enveloped in a cloud of smoke. I don’t know if the amount of smoke was a function of my location, of the demographics drawn by the particular game, or of the wind patterns that night, but it was legitimately pretty unpleasant (and the only negative in a beautiful 4 – 0 annihilation :)).

  19. josesoegaard
    March 22, 2011

    Isaiah, there is no sale of alcohol in Camp Nou. Only non-alcoholic beer. At least that was the case last September.

    • March 22, 2011

      you’re right, alcohol has been banned from Camp Nou for a long time. I think ever since Laporta kicked out the Boixos Nois.

      And I totally called that Alves would renew following that goal. I looked at all my friends in my living room and said, “and that my friends, is how you get them to pay up.” obviously this renewal was going to happen, but I imagine that goal has a direct correlation to the renewal happening this week.

  20. Jnice
    March 22, 2011

    Revista De La Liga – 03-22-11 – HTTP



    / De La Liga – 22-03-11.avi


    Credit to Pakman at

  21. Miguel
    March 22, 2011

    i’m not a smoker- mainly because of the stinky clothes factor- but i believe in putting people’s civil liberties over other people’s scruples. i certainly don’t think it should be public policy given the specious evidence that links second hand smoke and cancer. i’m not saying there’s no link whatsoever, just that there isn’t enough to make it a law. i just think that if you don’t want to be around someone who smokes you should tell that dude to put it out or go somewhere else, really.

  22. Jnice
    March 22, 2011

    Watched the first 15 minutes of Revista….

    -Forgot to mention this last week when Graham brought this up, but last week Graham said Pep called Pique an idiot during a couple of his defensive lapses against Sevilla. After the Getafe match, they apparently exchanged words again b/c Pep was annoyed at how he was defending. It’s not a big deal, but it’s clear Pique needs to step up his game.

    -Guillem says that the Cesc situation is clear. Cesc will want to leave again, we will go for him again, but if Arsenal want more than we can afford, we will go for Borja Valero.

  23. jaymin
    March 22, 2011

    this is a funny post. it is spain. it is not northern europe, it is asia already. they can ban smoking, drinking, feuding, but they will never enforce it. rijkaard, you’ll never smoke alone.

  24. Blaugrana
    March 23, 2011

    I think that the stadium should have a special smoking area, but ban it in certain places, becasue familes go to the stadium to watch games, and it really isn’t respectful to smoke around them.

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