By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – As of Wednesday, December 3rd, Brazil has banned smoking in all indoor public spaces, public or private, such as restaurants, clubs, residential building halls and clubs. The law also prohibits the advertisement of cigarettes, even in places that are allowed to sell the product.
Although the move is seen as an important step towards curbing smoking, the new anti-smoking law may infringe other legislation, says Percival Maricato, President of ABRASEL (Brazilian Association of Bars and Restaurants), “We are in favor of a separation (in public places) of smokers and non-smokers, but the way of the new law there are abuses, it is infringing on the liberty of smokers,” says the entity official.
Now smoking will only be allowed in one’s home, public parks, soccer stadiums (in open areas), streets, and religious buildings such as churches and mosques if it is part of the ritual. The infringement of the anti-smoking law will be punished with fines and even loss of operating licenses for commercial establishments.
For ABRASEL, the new law will especially affect bars and nightclubs since it does away with the so-called ‘fumodromos’ (smoking areas) which many had invested in to attract smokers. According to the law if there is a canopy or an umbrella to protect outside tables, then smokers are not allowed to light up.
“ABRASEL is against smoking, and feels it needs to be curbed, especially through education…but without promoting intolerance, segregation, exaggerations, unwarranted punishment and extensive exposure of photos of human organs at newspaper stands and bakeries,” stated an ABRASEL release.
Laws and ordinances against smoking in closed public spaces have been around for more than twenty years in several Brazilian states and cities says Maricato, and commercial establishments have invested heavily in creating environments both for smokers and non-smokers alike.
“In São Paulo, for example, has had anti-smoking laws for dozens of years, and bars and restaurants created ‘fumodromos’ so as to accommodate their clientele,” says the executive to The Rio Times, “but these new restrictions do not leave them much choice. The worst part is if someone smokes under a canopy the owner of the establishment is the one who will be fined or even worse – lose their operating license. How can they put that responsibility on us?”
With the new law, cigarette and cigar manufacturers must also post a warning on the health effects of tobacco use which must occupy a hundred percent of the back of the packaging and one of its sides.
According to Fundação do Cancer (Cancer Foundation) in Brazil eighty percent of the 24 million smokers started to smoke before they were eighteen years old and nearly nineteen percent of children between the ages of 13 and 15 have tried a cigarette.
The number of smokers in the country, however, has declined significantly. According to the IBGE (Brazilian Statistical Bureau) a survey in 2013 showed that 11.3 percent of Brazilians were regular smokers, three times less than in 1989, when 34.8 percent of Brazilians regularly lit up a cigarette.