Smoking in Reykjavík: The dos and don’ts

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.

The law

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.

The attitude

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 are trying to quit smoking while in Iceland, there is a phone number (800-6030) that you can call for assistance, 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.

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8 thoughts on “Smoking in Reykjavík: The dos and don’ts”

  1. Morgan Hoover says:

    Glad smoking is not allowed in bars, restaurants, cafes, etc in Iceland as I am sensitive to cigarette smoke. And to cough my way through my meal or drink due to someone else’s smoking is not pleasant for me. When I am on the street and someone is smoking, I make a wide circle around them to lessen exposure to their tobacco smoke. I also dislike the smell of cigarettes. Iv’e tried smoking myself and found the smell and taste of tobacco so nasty along with the coughing and the grubby feeling on my skin, hair and clothes from the smoke residues that I could not continue.

    And my relatives got sick and died from smoking (cancer, etc) of those who did not quit in time. Those who quit in time lived into their upper 80s or are still alive. This is from my own experience with smoking.

  2. Brillex says:

    How about Mary Jane doe??? (Cannabis)

    1. mm Auður says:

      Illegal and people smoke it in private.

  3. Valerie Fanarjian says:

    thank you Auður for being so considerate of the smoker.
    i have been smoking for over 40 years, and while i have tried EVERYTHING, i can not quit…and those times i have tried to, my healthy friends all offer to buy me a pack, because they all see i just need it to relax.
    i do not smoke all day, i do not smoke around people and i never ever throw the butts on the ground.
    i do not smell like a smoker and most are surprised that i do smoke.
    but unfortunately, it looks like i cannot find and decent place to smoke in iceland and i so want to come to your beautiful country, and i want to stay at a nice clean hotel.

    any ideas?
    again, thank you for the lack of judgement, it reaffirms how fun it would be to hangout in in reyjavik.

    1. mm Auður says:

      You won’t find any hotel offering rooms you can smoke in. So you’ll just have to do like everyone else and smoke outside 🙂

  4. Cody Casterline says:

    You say: “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.”

    Can you give reference to the law that states that? I’m having a discussion with folks about whether smoking in the shared courtyard just outside our windows is legal.

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      This post is quite old but I’m quite sure I was quoting the 9th article of the 3rd chapter of these laws: but they only refer to public buildings I think.

      But these laws are old so I think you’d need to read all the appendixes also.

  5. Marcos says:

    Good to know there are these restrictions. I read somewhere (maybe and old site) that smoking in restaurants was still alowed in Iceland, and it was discouraging me to choose it as a travel destination.

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