Friday, June 3, 2011

You can't light up here che

Argentina has become the eighth country in Latin America to ban smoking in public places. The legislation, which was passed in the Senate last August, was approved by Congress this week by 182 votes to one.

The law means that all enclosed spaces including bars, restaurants and offices will be 100% smoke-free and will therefore limit smokers to lighting up outdoors or in their homes.

It will also ban tobacco advertising and will force cigarette manufactures to place warnings on their packs, prohibiting the use of words such as ‘light’ and ‘mild’ which give smokers a mixed message. From its second year the law will even stipulate that a cigarette cannot contain more than one milligram of nicotine and 10 milligrams of carbon monoxide.

“Importantísimo,” said Senator Daniel Filmus, who is a candidate in July's elections for Buenos Aires City Mayor. A fervent backer of the ban, Filmus announced outside congress that the new law “is one of the most advanced in the world and will stop people smoking more and protect non-smokers.”

Argentina is a country which likes a puff.

Popular brand in Argentina
33% of adults smoke and government statistics show that, rather alarmingly, between 15 and 20% of pregnant women go on smoking throughout their pregnancy. There are 40,000 deaths caused by smoking per year in the country and $4,330 million (US$1000 million) is spent annually on medical treatment for tobacco related illnesses (15.5% of total health spending).

The law, which will also ban the surprisingly common practice of selling cigarettes individually, will according to the politicians, protect non-smokers, reduce the amount current smokers smoke and dissuade youngsters from taking up the habit. Representative Marcela Rodríguez however, a member of the opposition Ciciv Coalition party, abstained from the vote claiming that the law ‘will not put anyone off smoking.’

Those caught breaking the law will face fines of between 250 and 1,000,000 times the price of a pack of twenty ciggies (today’s price for a pack of 20 Marlboro is just under US$2). But it should be noted that in the case of someone lighting up in a bar or restaurant, it will be the owner of the establishment who has to foot the bill and not the smoker who, either out of rebellion against the law or the inability to resist the craving for a fag, sparks one up where the law now says it's banned.

Time will tell if the law is actually enforced or if like many others the authorities just don't bother. It will be comical when the policemen here, who routinely smoke on duty, have to stub their own cigarette out to tell someone off for smoking.
  
Argentina, which last month prohibited the import, sale and promotion of electronic cigarettes for a lack of evidence that they help smokers quit, joins Uruguay, Panamá, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Honduras and Venezuela as the Latin American countries which have enforced a public smoking ban. 

2 comments:

  1. ..while I could see how many smokers are very annoyed by this,it's good that ppl are taking the effects of smoking/second hand smoking more seriously..in NYC they've banned it in central park--one of the busiest and most beautiful places in New York..

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