Latin America to Curb Smoking

Published on April 11th, 2013 00:00
antitobacco

Tobacco crop, as generations of schoolchildren have been explained, was introduced to Europe from the Americas together with potatoes. Latin America continues to be hooked on tobacco products. However the region has currently started to try to quit the habit. Several weeks ago Chile grew to become the 14th Latin American country to prohibit cigarette use in closed public places.
Chile’s conversion is substantial, mainly because it is something of a smokers’ corner. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 40% of Chileans use tobacco products in comparison to 27% of Argentines and 17% of people in Brazil, where smoking eradication launched in the late 1990s. Chile’s health minister, Jaime Mañalich, affirms that treating cigarette victims requires a quarter of the $10 billion public health-care budget.

Chile’s smokers are getting younger and younger. Based on the Tobacco Atlas study, almost 40% of girls aged 13-15 in Santiago light up. That is higher from about 20% registered in 2003, and is also the greatest rate worldwide. Increasing prosperity is partially to blame. Mr. Mañalich also refers to a cultural transformation: “Chile has nearly always been a very macho country though that is transforming. For women, smoking in public is in some way a sign they are independent.”

Latin America’s new preventions of cigarette use encounter opposition from the industry. Marlboro producer, Philip Morris International has submitted a claim in opposition to Uruguay at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, declaring that the country’s anti-smoking actions infringe a bilateral investment treaty. Brazil, the world’s third-largest manufacturer of tobacco leaf, deals with pressure from its farmers to guard their jobs.

The anti-smoking lobby would like to see pricing and taxing of cigarettes be matched up throughout Latin America, to dissuade contraband. With income differing broadly among countries, that would be challenging. But governments could discourage cigarette use with other actions, such as curbs on marketing, larger health warnings and subsidizing nicotine-replacement therapy.
“Only Satan can offer man the skills of expelling smoke through the mouth,” stated the Spanish Inquisition in imprisoning Rodrigo de Jerez, one of Columbus’s sailors, and the first person to deliver tobacco crop to Europe. Latin American authorities currently seem to agree.

By Kevin Lawson, Staff Writer.
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