Statement of Matthew L. Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Guatemala's Congress on November 24, 2008, approved sweeping smoke-free legislation requiring that indoor workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars, be 100 percent smoke-free. This legislation is a major step forward in protecting the health of Guatemala's 13 million residents and workers from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke and adds momentum to the growing smoke-free movement in Latin America and the world.
If signed into law, this legislation would place Guatemala among the ranks of leading smoke-free jurisdictions in the world. It prohibits smoking in enclosed public places, work places and all modes of public transport. We urge President Alvaro Colom to sign the legislation immediately and start the clock ticking on the sixty days before it takes effect under Guatemalan law. We also urge the Ministry of Health to write strong regulations and immediately begin preparations for implementing the law so that Guatemala may join its Latin American neighbors in addressing the tobacco epidemic.
In Latin America, Guatemala joins Uruguay, Panama, Mexico, and five Argentinean provinces in having strong smoke-free laws. Worldwide, other countries and jurisdictions that have adopted strong smoke-free laws include Bermuda, Bhutan, Djibouti, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Ireland, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Turkey and the United Kingdom. In Australia, Canada and the United States, a growing number of states, provinces and territories have adopted smoke-free laws.
Increasingly, governments are recognizing that, to effectively protect the health of their citizens, they must take action against a tobacco epidemic that the World Health Organization estimates will claim one billion lives worldwide this century unless urgent action is taken. A 2003 survey found that 23.9 percent of males over age 18 in Guatemala are smokers. Another survey showed that tobacco use among females is rising, and that 36.3 percent of Guatemala's youth are exposed to tobacco use in the home.
Tobacco use already kills 5.4 million people a year worldwide. Unchecked, that number is projected to rise to more than eight million by 2030, with more than 80 percent of these deaths in developing nations. Guatemala should implement the smoke-free law as quickly and strongly as possible. We hope that the leadership of smoke-free champions such as Diputada Zury Rios, who sponsored the legislation that was approved by Guatemala's visionary Congress, will result in a major public health victory for Guatemala.
Facts about Secondhand Smoke and Smoke-Free Laws
Based in Washington, D.C., the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leader in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences in the United States and around the world.As part of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, the Campaign works with governments and non-governmental organizations in promoting and implementing public policies to reduce tobacco use. Visit www.tobaccofreecenter.org.
|SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids|
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