Health Ministry calls for strict anti-smoking legislation.

The anti-smoking bill was the topic of debate last Monday in the Legislative Assembly commission in Costa Rica. The bill was set to ban smoking in public places, but has been weakened with an amendment that will allow for special sectioned off smoking areas in bars, clubs, restaurants, and other businesses. This recent amendment violates the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty with the aim to reduce smoking in public areas.

The Health Ministry, the public, and many anti-smoking groups are demonstrating strong support in favor of the original outright ban on smoking in public places. There is a fast growing Facebook page with over 15,000 fans in favor of banning smoking in public places in Costa Rica. One user, Herrera, reports that a young man was recently pulled over by a police officer and given a citation for smoking, stating that the police officer claimed the cigarette in his hand was a distraction while driving. Prime Minister Ávila comments on the amendment “What will happen to the health of waiters and staff that will assist these clients? They are also entitled to be protected.”

Currently it is unsure if vapes and portable vaporizers are exempted of this ban. These vaping devices have become a recent trend, and most people agree that they are a  healthier alternative than other smoking options.

The bill will be up for debate again once it leaves the Legislative Assembly commission and goes to President Laura Chinchilla’s general assembly. In this assembly, lawmakers will have to opportunity to modify it yet again before the final vote. On publication, five out of the nine legislators support the bill.