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Nationwide Smoking Ban Enters in Force

12/03/2014 - 08h54

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NATÁLIA CANCIAN
FROM BRASÍLIA

Brazil's smoking ban entered into force this Wednesday (3), nearly three years after being passed.

Smoking is now prohibited in all enclosed areas open to the public, across the whole country. This even includes smoking areas partially enclosed by walls, roofs or tarpaulin.

There are also new restrictions on cigarette advertising. Tobacco products are allowed to be displayed, but advertising in shops and bars is now banned.

Health warnings will now occupy the entire back of the cigarette pack, as well as one of the sides.

Premises which are found to be in breach of the legislation may face a fine of anything from US $777 (R$2000) to US $583,000 (R$1.5 million), as well as potentially having their license revoked.

Individual smokers will not face any penalty.

While the law was approved in 2011, the details were not agreed upon until this year. Part of the delay was down to discussion between various sectors with the tobacco lobby.

Brazilian states that had their own laws previously will be obliged to comply with the new rules.

According to the Tobacco Smoking Control Alliance (ACT+), 22 states had smoking bans, as well as the capital Brasília. However, just eight of these bans extended to enclosed smoking areas. This is considered the principal change introduced by the new legislation.

Specialists see the new law as progress.

"These changes deconstruct the association made in the advertising between smoking and freedom, which especially targeted adolescents," says Danielle Barata, from the Centre of Studies on Tobacco and Health, at the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz). "By changing the law, you change the paradigm."

In 2013 alone, hospitalizations resulting from smoking related diseases cost the Ministry of Health US $544 million (R$1.4 billion).

For Ana Cecília Marques, president of the Brazilian Association of Studies on Alcohol and other Drugs (Abead), the law may reduce the number of young people that take up smoking. "When there's less exposure, it becomes less accessible, and the chance of them starting is less."

The experience of the states that had already implemented smoking bans, such as São Paulo, shows reduction in the number of smokers, as well as improvements in the quality of life of non-smokers.

The executive director of the Tobacco Smoking and Health Control Alliance, Paula Johns, says that as people generally begin smoking in social situations, the new law will help to prevent addiction before it starts.

While she welcomes the new legislation, she argues that it does not go far enough. For example, there are still no restrictions on the size of cigarette display cabinets, nor has a single standard been established for packaging.

Another possibility is that tobacco shops - in which smoking will still be permitted - may be transformed into smoke-friendly restaurants.

The Tobacco Industry Association (Abifumo) was not available for comment.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

Read the article in the original language

Luiz Carlos Murauskas/Folhapress
Brazil's new smoking ban entered into force this Wednesday (3), nearly three years after being passed
Brazil's new smoking ban entered into force this Wednesday (3), nearly three years after being passed

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