Responsible for organizing the discussions among 181 countries that are part of an international treaty to control smoking, Brazilian doctor Vera Luiza Costa e Silva says that Brazil needs to resume the debate about increasing taxes on cigarettes and pass more restrictions to smoking in public spaces, like parks and beaches.
This needs to be accomplished in order to continue reducing the number of smokers in Brazil. Currently, 10.1% of the population smokes. The goal is to reach 5%, which would be "close to a smoke-free country," she says.
"The country needs to enter a new phase of forbidding to smoke inside cars and in beaches and public parks. This is something that many countries are already doing. And also it needs to increase children's protection, by putting cigarette packs in closed shelves in the points of sale," she said.
Silva has been for the last four years the Head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control's Secretariat. The Convention was WHO's first of it's kind, and it was established in 2005. Since then, Silva says she has seen some changes.
The tobacco industry, she says, has been trying to create a "new market" with products like heated tobacco devices and electronic cigarettes, she says. But there are risks.
One of them would be "renormalize nicotine use as something acceptable and desirable", by claiming that these new products are less harmful. However, there's still not enough scientific evidence to back that claim. Another risk is to attract more young people to these products.
Translated by NATASHA MADOV
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