Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Update on Smoking Bans Around the World

The noose tightens.

Smoking bans are everywhere. But what does the global picture look like as 2011 gets underway? Herewith, a brief rundown of the smoking situation in assorted countries, courtesy of an analysis late last year by BBC News.

-- Canada. In a nation known as one of the toughest of all when it comes to regulating cigarettes, the Canadian Medical Association Journal says the strict laws have been responsible for “cutting hospital admissions for heart and respiratory problems by about a third.”

-- China. In contrast, 2010 gave observers little reason to think that the Chinese government was actually going to enforce the promised national ban on smoking in public places. Enforcement varied from city to city but in general remained vague at best. Only about 25 % of the adult population believes that smoking is linked to cancer. “The country has an estimated 350 million smokers. For every three cigarettes lit worldwide, one is smoked in China,” according to BBC News.

-- Germany. The smoke-free movement hit some snags in Germany, where a ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants in 2008 has been fiercely resisted in some quarters. Tavern owners complain of lost income, and the bans are also disliked “because of an earlier crackdown on smoking initiated by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime,” says BBC News. Nonetheless, cigarettes were banned from Munich’s Oktoberfest for the first time in history.

-- France. Curiously, in a nation that was expected to rise up as one against workplace smoking bans, “correspondents say attitudes to smoking have changed dramatically in France since the 2007 ban, and any fears that people would generally ignore the laws have proved false.”

-- United Kingdom.
Smoking is banned almost everywhere—“nearly all enclosed public spaces”—in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. This year, England may become the first nation to sell cigarettes in plain brown wrappers—a move government officials hope will make the packages less attractive to younger smokers.

-- Iran. Back in 2003, Iran banned smoking in public buildings. According to the BBC, the measures have had “little effect. However, in July 2010 smokers were banned from taking high-ranking jobs in the Iranian government, the news agency ILNA reported.”

-- Russia. The heavy-smoking Russians continue to astound: “A 2009 survey by the World Health Organization found that Russia has 43.9 million smokers—about 40% of the population.” About 60% of Russian men smoke. 500,000 people die of smoking-related illness each year. The Russian government is considering a blanket no-smoking policy for enclosed spaces—starting in 2015.

-- Uruguay. The host of a recent international summit on tobacco control strategies, Uruguay has adopted some of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the world—so tough that the government was forced to back down on some of its sweeping new restrictions due to tobacco industry pressure.

-- Australia. Starting last September, there was no smoking “in cars carrying children, on sections of beaches, and within 10m (32ft) of playground equipment.” Australia also bans smoking in public workplaces, and plans to follow England’s lead in forcing tobacco companies to use plain wrappers for cigarette packages.

-- United States. California, a state that almost managed to pass a proposition legalizing marijuana, has the strictest and most extensive set of anti-tobacco laws on the planet. Smoking is banned not just within public buildings, but also within 20 feet of public buildings, and on all state beaches.

Graphics Credit: http://www.nicotineedge.com/

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