Smoking in Uruguay

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2006 smoking ban

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In March 2006, it became illegal in Uruguay to smoke in enclosed public spaces. Now bars, restaurants or offices where people are caught smoking face fines of more than $1,100 or a three-day closure. This makes Uruguay the first country in South America to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces. [1].

Anti-smoking groups estimate that as many as a third of Uruguay's 3.4 million people smoke. President Tabaré Vázquez, a practicing oncologist, has cited reports suggesting about seven people die each day in Uruguay (an estimated 5,000 people a year) from smoking-related causes including lung cancer, emphysema and other illnesses.[2]

To help promote the plan, president Vazquez launched a campaign called "A Million Thanks," which is a reference to the number of Uruguayan smokers. So far, the campaign seems to have won these people over, as an opinion poll conducted by the Ministry of Public Health states that close to 70% of the country's smokers support the legislation. [3]

The president was the impetus behind the government-decreed measure, which is among the world’s toughest and is similar to bans already in place in Ireland, Sweden, Norway and Spain. [4]

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