Strict anti-smoking law takes effect across Mexico


A revised law that bans smoking in all public places and prohibits retailers from displaying cigarettes took effect on Sunday.

The General Law for Tobacco Control “amounts to one of the most stringent anti-smoking laws in the world,” according to a BBC report.

People are now explicitly banned 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 arenas. Smoking is already banned in many of the aforesaid indoor spaces.

The anti-smoking law also prohibits all forms of advertising and promotion of cigarettes including sponsorship arrangements involving tobacco companies. Retailers such as the ubiquitous convenience store Oxxo are no longer permitted to stock tobacco products in open view of customers.

Health regulator Cofepris will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the law, which is expected to have an impact on demand for tobacco.

The federal Health Ministry anticipates that the new law will prevent 49,000 premature deaths and 292,000 cases of smoking-related illnesses over the next 10 years, the newspaper El Financiero reported.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), an agency of the World Health Organization, noted in a statement last month that Mexico’s Senate unanimously approved an amendment to the General Law for Tobacco Control that established “100% smoke-free environments and a total ban on the advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco products on December 14, 2021.”

“This amendment represents a historic step forward for Mexico in its anti-smoking policies and reaffirms its role as one of the leaders in the fight against tobacco in the world,” said Cristian Morales, PAHO representative in Mexico.

In contrast, “some smokers are dismayed at the draconian nature of the new law,” the BBC reported, noting that smoking outside private residences will be restricted in many cases.

It remains to be seen how strictly the anti-smoking law will be enforced in a country where approximately 16 million people — one in eight Mexicans — smoke.

According to the BBC, many Mexicans fear that corrupt police will use the law to collect bribes from people who are caught smoking in places where the habit is prohibited.