Smoking ban in Costa Rica is in full effect. My home away from home, and favorite country, Costa Rica has now instituted a few new laws that have to do with cigarette smoking and even more importantly, the sale of cigarettes. For Costa Ricans, as well as vendors in the country of Costa Rica, this is BIG news.
Like most things Tico (That’s slang for Costa Rican), this won’t be rolled out for a few months. But, it was recently reported that the Ley AntiTabaco (Anti smoking law) is in full effect.
Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla signed the bill last Thursday, and here is a breakdown of the impact on Costa Rican culture:
- A FULL ban on all tobacco smoking products in public places. This means bars, clubs, restaurants and the workplace. Another public place that’s often an afterthought (and a big part of Costa Rican culture) is the bus stop and taxi stands.
With most people in Costa Rica using public transportation often finding themselves waiting around for the bus to arrive, this is a HUGE deal for the people of Costa Rica, who typically smoke more than the average country.
- The sales of cigarettes under the quantity of 20 is strictly prohibited. The fine for selling individual cigarettes, which many street vendors and even bars take part in quite regularly, is 36,000 colones. That’s about $71 at current rates to the US Dollar.
This second stipulation will seriously affect the practice of selling cigarettes in Costa Rica. The buying of “loosies” (you know, one cigarette) is very common. It’s even more common the further you get away from the city of San Jose, where about 90% of the populace resides. Buying loosies was something I was doing when I lived in Costa Rica, and it makes it easy for the average Costa Rican citizen, who earns far less than you think, to buy a smoke.
Hey, maybe this is a good thing for electronic cigarettes in Costa Rica? I would think that the fines and even more importantly, the enforcement of this has to be done and done with an iron fist, otherwise it won’t matter. Costa Rica is very selective at enforcing certain laws, and there is a SERIOUS problem with corruption. Well, this should be interesting , if nothing else.
You’ll also start to see the picture-based warnings on 50% of the pack of cigarettes (I’ve seen this in Panama – they get pretty graphic) in Costa Rica. That should deter some of the youth who start smoking pretty young down there from getting addicted to heaters.
Will keep you posted on how this progresses, you guys.