Mexico imposes one of world’s strictest anti-smoking laws
Smoking is not only harmful to smokers, but also for the people around them in the form of second-hand smoking. This is why many venues have either a no-smoking policy or dedicated smoking areas, and charge hefty fines to violators. With that said, some countries like Mexico are going one step further. In this Pacific Prime Latin America article, we’ll take a closer look at how the country is imposing one of the world’s strictest anti-smoking laws.
Smoking stats: Around 16% of adults in Mexico smoke
Before we dive into the new laws around smoking in Mexico, we’ll touch upon some relevant smoking stats in the country. According to the ‘Tobacco Free Kids’ campaign, around 16.4% of adults (defined as those aged 15 and above) in Mexico are tobacco smokers. When broken down into genders, Men comprise 25.2% and women comprise 8.2%. Amongst youth aged 13 to 15 in Mexico, 14.6% smoke cigarettes, with only a marginal difference between the genders.
The costs of smoking to society are monumental
Whether it’s the cost of healthcare to smokers and third-parties, lost productivity due to ill health, and more, smoking costs societies a significant amount each year. In Mexico, the ‘Tobacco Free Kids’ campaign reports that:
“The economic cost of smoking is 187.5 billion pesos, equal to 9.3% of annual health care costs. This includes direct medical costs of 116.2 billion pesos and 71.3 billion pesos in indirect costs.”
A total ban on smoking in public places comes into effect
Mexico’s new anti-smoking law explicitly bans people from smoking in outdoor public places such as parks, town squares and beaches, as well as offices, hotels, restaurants, schools, stadiums, shopping centers, and entertainment areas. In fact, many of the aforementioned indoor venues already had smoking bans in place. The law also bans all forms of advertising and promotion of cigarettes, and retailers can no longer stock tobacco products in open view of customers.
Note: Other Latin American countries like Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, and Chile are also considering imposing tobacco on control policies to reduce tobacco use.
Impact of the new ban still remains uncertain
While Mexico’s federal Health Ministry anticipates that the new anti-smoking law will prevent 49,000 premature deaths and 292,000 cases of smoking-related illnesses over the next 10 years, others are not so optimistic. Critics point to the harsh nature of the rule, emphasizing that people can continue smoking in their own homes and also questioning the enforcement of the law due to issues of corruption.
Further reading: Does smoking affect health insurance premiums?
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